Only 20% of People with Eating Disorders Get Help – This Startup Is out to Change That

Roughly 30 million Americans suffer from one of several eating disorders, but only 20% are likely to seek treatment. The startup company Equip has been working on providing more treatment options that can be delivered into a person’s home. The article is an interview with the two founders, detailing why they have opted to work on this particular health issue. 

One of the founders was diagnosed with anorexia when she was just 10 years old, and the problem plagued her over the course of her teenage years. While she was getting treatment  she found out that 80% of people with similar disorders would never seek help or treatment. Part of the problem was that there was one approach to treat the problem, but with eating disorders being a problem for members of every race, gender, and age group, it requires a much more comprehensive method to properly treat sufferers. 

Equip has developed Family-Based Treatment (FBT) as a treatment method that uses the patient’s existing support structure to help them overcome the disorder. Because a large percentage of people with eating disorders are pre-teens and teenagers, the company feels their parents are in the best position to help create a healthier eating structure in their homes. The co-founders point to how instrumental parents have been in helping children who are suspected of taking drugs, such as going through the kid’s backpack and looking through their room for drugs. Parents can also monitor their children’s eating habits..Parents can make sure to have dinners together (ensuring that a child with anorexia eats enough during the meal) and monitoring them for an hour or two after the meal (making sure that children with bulimia don’t go to the bathroom to purge their food). By closely monitoring the situation for a while, it will help to diminish the urges associated with eating disorders. 

This treatment is based on trials that have shown FBT being among the most effective ways of supporting someone with an eating disorder. It is not a new treatment method; FBT has been around for about 20 years. By treating an eating disorder as a family illness, it provides the necessary support structure to help in a number of different aspects of the person’s life. Tackling the problem alone does not tend to be very successful, which could be one of the reasons why people don’t seek treatment. Another reason why it is important to involve whole families is that there seems to be some genetic disposition. This means that there could be more people suffering from a particular problem, so having more people involved can help multiple members at the same time. A person with an eating disorder doesn’t typically know just how serious a disorder is, so having support from the family can help to highlight just how severe the problem is, instead of being able to keep denying it to themselves. It also takes some of the pressure off of the person with the disorder because the family is actually helping take some of the pressure off at every single meal. 

Most illnesses have a robust set of protocols and treatments that take more of the individual in mind when treating them. It can also help to prevent the illness from becoming worse, similar to the way people are monitored for cancer after a certain age. Another element that they want to help fight is the idea that eating disorders are only a problem for females at a certain age. This allows for the disorder to go unchecked for a lot longer. 

The point of BFT isn’t to blame parents or other family members, but to seek a way to help each other. Most of the time, it isn’t the parents fault, but they are in the best position to help their children. 

If you are interested in learning more, you can read the full article Only 20% of People with Eating Disorders Get Help – This Startup Is out to Change That

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