Senator Santarsiero Applauds House Passage of Eating Disorder Legislation, Calls on Senate to Take Up Bill
BUCKS COUNTY – Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) today applauded the passage of House Bill 148 by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The bill, sponsored by Representative Jason Ortitay (R-46) would require schools to annually provide educational information to parents with children in 6th-12th grades about eating disorders and resources to help overcome them. Senator Santarsiero first introduced the bill in 2013 when he was serving in the House, and is currently the prime sponsor of companion legislation in the Senate.
Sen. Santarsiero applauded the House for passing the measure and committed to working with his Senate colleagues to get the bill enacted.
“We have seen a dramatic rise in eating disorders in children and parents are often caught off guard, discovering the problem only after serios complications,” Sen. Santarsiero said applauding the House for passing the bill. “HB 148, which I originally proposed as HB 1959 in 2013, is identical to my bill in the Senate, SB 623, and would help parents prevent eating disorders in their children, provide the information to recognize the problem sooner and connect with resources for a full recovery.”
The bill would also direct the Department of Education, in conjunction with the Department of Health, to develop a task force, which would develop guidelines for providing parent educational information regarding eating disorders.
“Social media has exacerbated unrealistic ideas about body size and image,” Ortitay said. “About 9% of the Commonwealth’s population will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. Eating disorders are most likely to start between the ages of 14 and 25. By educating middle and high school students and their parents, I am hopeful those who need help will be identified quickly in order for them to receive the assistance they need to recover.”
Advocates praised the passage of the legislation and the progress that has been made on the issue.
“I am excited to see this legislation finally progressing toward implementation; all efforts to raise awareness and provide education and resources about eating disorders that will ultimately result in saving lives,” said Martha Watson, who lost her daughter to an eating disorder at the age of 21. “Leveraging the school communities to make this information widely available makes sense. Like my family, thousands of families have lost sons and daughters to eating disorders that took hold at young ages. House Bill 148/Senate Bill 623 is vital legislation that will make a difference.”
Emily Rosenberg, a former constituent who helped draft the original bill in 2012, is an advocate and eating disorder survivor. “This legislation is particularly important to me because of my experience with an eating disorder in high school. It was an intrusive, relentless and unreasonable voice in my head, telling me I was never enough. No child is immune to developing an eating disorder, but these bills will significantly decrease the number of children affected. It has been ten years since I began advocating for this bill, and today, Senator Santarsiero’s, Representative Ortitay’s and my dedication, passion and time has paid off. Having passed in the House, I am highly optimistic it will move swiftly through the Senate and be sent to the governor’s desk and signed into law.”
“Adequate education can save years of suffering with an eating disorder,” said Tamie Gangloff, a Lancaster County resident and group facilitator for the National Alliance for Eating Disorders Support. “Research shows that earlier intervention reduces the need for a higher level of care and increases the likelihood of sustained long-term recovery. The National Alliance for Eating Disorders is honored to be a part of the conversation to provide Pennsylvania parents with dependable and trustworthy education on eating disorders.’
HB 148 now goes to the Senate for consideration.
(Senator Steve Santarsiero with Emily Rosenberg (L) and Tamie Gangloff (R) in Harrisburg on April 26, 2023.)