State balances disorder clinics’ fate in budget decision

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The funding for several state eating disorder clinics remains in limbo as Gov. David Paterson continues to plan the upcoming year’s state budget.

Eating disorders, or an eating behavior problem, identify with people who restrict their food intake and are focused on staying slim – versus people who have bulimia, who make themselves throw up and may be bingeing and purging, said Elizabeth Burns, nurse practitioner at Mary Walker Health Center.

"The trouble with the individuals who are anorexic, who are restricting their intake, it’s hard for them to recognize that they have a problem," Burns said. "They aren’t the ones who are going to come in and say ‘I have a problem’ because they don’t perceive that they do."

In the U.S., as many as 10 million females and one million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Approximately 25 million more are struggling with a binge eating disorder, according to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA).

Though a lot of these numbers are nationally based, New Yorkers who deal with these disorders face another issue.

Gov. Paterson’s budget plan for this year is threatening to take away funding for New York state eating disorder clinics. Since being established by the Department of Health (D.O.H.) in 2005, the centers in Albany, New York City and The Western New York Center have treated 10,000 patients and developed a network to coordinate services. The centers also worked with the DOH’s Office of Mental Health to establish the state’s only adolescent residential eating disorders program, which is in Rochester, according to Patti Singer’s article: "Eating Disorder Centers Want Funds Restored," on