Massage therapy benefits people who suffer from eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. Research by the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine showed that massaged bulimic patients experienced immediate reductions in anxiety and depression, and improvement on several other psychological and behavioral measures.

State-of-the-art eating-disorder treatment facilities are aware of the benefits of massage and other complementary therapies, and make them available to their patients. At Sierra Tucson, one of the top treatment facilities, for example, patients may receive massage, chiropractic, reiki, qi gong, acupuncture, shiatsu and Zero Balancing as aspects of treatment that focuses on mind-body-spirit healing.

But not everyone can afford in-patient treatment, and health insurance often doesn’t cover treatment for eating disorders.

This year’s annual National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Feb. 22-28, will focus on an effort to increase insurance coverage for eating disordered patients.

The week is sponsored by the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). The association has launched the STAR Program, (States for Treatment Access and Research) to promote a charter developed by the Academy for Eating Disorders that addresses the rights of eating disordered patients.

STAR will be introduced in the legislatures of 30 state capitals in February and March with the goal of raising awareness among legislators about the challenges in accessing adequate medical care to battle an eating disorder due to unfair practices by insurance companies and, ultimately, to change state law to address those inequities, according to a NEDA press release.

“Until eating disorders become a thing of the past, NEDA’s goals are to ensure that insurance covers appropriate treatment, efforts are made to educate the medical, educational and work communities to support education and prevention, and that funding is increased for research essential to finding better treatments and cures,” said Lynn Grefe, CEO of NEDA.

Among the events planned this week are seminars and workshops on college campuses and in other venues; film festivals; health fairs and screenings; awareness walks; candlelight vigils; fundraisers; artistic performances and Great Jeans Giveways to encourage people to get rid of jeans that don’t fit and to buy jeans that respect one’s genes.

For information on NEDAwareness Week, a list of events being held across the nation during NEDAW and eating disorders in general, visit www.NationalEatingDisorders.org.

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