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.)

Senators Santarsiero and Browne Announce National Eating Disorders Awareness Week Resolution

HARRISBURG — February 3, 2020 —State Senators Steve Santarsiero (D-10) and Pat Browne (R-16) are co-prime sponsors of a resolution to recognize February 24 through March 1, 2020 as National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

“Eating disorders exist across the broad spectrum of age, race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomics, and are marred by misunderstandings and misconceptions,” said Sen. Santarsiero. “This issue affects over 30 million Americans and has escaped our attention for far too long. It is my hope that this resolution brings that much needed attention to the devasting reality and prevalence of eating disorders.”

“Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and they affect the lives of people across all backgrounds,” said Sen. Browne. “Unfortunately, signs and symptoms of eating disorders are often overlooked and friends and family of those suffering from an eating disorder are frequently unaware of how devastating these disorders can be. We have learned from eating disorder experts that prompt, intensive treatment significantly improves the chances of recovery. Understanding this, it is vital that we help shine the spotlight on eating disorders, how to identify early warning signs and what can be done to help those suffering get the treatment and help they need. I am pleased to co-sponsor this resolution with Senator Santarsiero to increase the awareness of this devastating disorder.”

In 2019, Sen. Santarsiero introduced Senate Bill 324, which would require schools to annually provide educational information on eating disorders to parents with children in 5th through 12th grades. To announce this legislation, Sen. Santarsiero hosted a press conference in the capitol with Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, Joey Julius, former Pennsylvania State University football kicker, and guests from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

“The goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is to shine the spotlight on eating disorders and put life-saving resources into the hands of those in need. It is estimated that over 500,000 Pennsylvania residents are currently struggling with an eating disorder, which are serious and potentially life-threatening mental illnesses,” said Chevese Turner, Chief Policy and Strategy Officer for NEDA. “NEDA is grateful to Pennsylvania Senators Browne and Santarsiero for their support in bringing attention to this important campaign.”

For more information about the Senate Resolution, click here.

To view opening remarks from the 2019 press conference on Senate Bill 324, click here.

For more information about Senate Bill 324, click here.

For more information about the National Eating Disorders Association, click here.

Sen. Steve Santarsiero represents the 10th Senatorial District, which includes: Bedminster Township, Buckingham Township, Chalfont, Doylestown, Doylestown Township, Dublin, East Rockhill Township, Falls Township, Haycock Township, Hilltown Township, Lower Makefield Township, Morrisville, New Britain, New Britain Township, New Hope, Newtown, Newtown Township, Perkasie, Plumstead Township, Sellersville, Silverdale, Solebury Township, Telford, Tullytown, Upper Makefield Township, West Rockhill Township, and Yardley.