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Socio-Economic Impact of Eating Disorders - NFP Report

11 December 2012 at 9:45 am
Staff Reporter
Almost one million Australians are currently suffering from an eating disorder with the social and economic cost to the community estimated at $69.7 billion, according to the Not for Profit Butterfly Foundation.

Staff Reporter | 11 December 2012 at 9:45 am


Socio-Economic Impact of Eating Disorders - NFP Report
11 December 2012 at 9:45 am

Almost one million Australians are currently suffering from an eating disorder with the social and economic cost to the community estimated at $69.7 billion, according to the Not for Profit Butterfly Foundation.

The socio-economic impact report by Deloitte Access Economics, estimates that there are 913,986 people in Australia with eating disorders this year.

The Butterfly Foundation says the Paying the Price Report is the first of its kind for eating disorder in Australia, identifying prevalence, financial costs, and the productivity and societal impact of the many Australians suffering these mental illnesses.

The report also estimated that the mortality rates are almost twice as high for people with eating disorders than in the general population. Deloitte estimates up to 1,828 deaths from eating disorders in 2012 (515 males and 1,313 females).

CEO of the Butterfly Foundation, Christine Morgan, said it is important to keep in mind that the figures presented in this report are a conservative assessment, based on the limited data currently available in Australia.

“Until now, we had no idea that the socio-economic impact of eating disorders was comparable to around two per cent of Australia’s GDP," Morgan said. 

“Even more frightening is the number of annual deaths, for eating disorders, is higher than the 2011 Australian road death toll.”

The Butterfly Foundation urges State, Territory and Federal governments to resolve the ongoing tussles in the area of mental health funding, and ensure that individuals do not fall through the cracks – including in the private health sector.

“In the light of the sizeable prevalence figures, our health system must be capable of recognising and responding to eating disorders. To do this, acute sector and community service providers need to have the necessary protocols and specialist knowledge for early identification and care for people with eating disorders, and private health insurance coverage
needs to be extended," Morgan said. 

“The recommendations are very clear about the critical need for appropriate data collection to support the development and implementation of a long term strategy underpinned by a strong policy response.

The Federal Government has responded announcing it would boost funding to support thousands of Australians with eating disorders.

Minister for Mental Health Mark Butler said just over $1.9 million dollars would be provided to the Butterfly Foundation for its support and information services for people with an eating disorder.

“Eating disorders are an important mental health issue and this new funding will expand the Butterfly Foundation’s free telephone support line and enable us to begin providing web-based counseling and peer support,” Butler said.

“Families and carers will also be provided with improved access to web-based education and training as part of the expansion.”

Butler also announced that up to $150,000 will be provided to the Butterfly Foundation to identify possible improvements to programs provided by the Australian, state and territory governments and privately-funded services.

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