Saturday, July 05, 2008

Mazel tov Lulu!

Today is Lulu's bat mitzvah. Mazel tov, my dear daughter!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Make the call for mental health parity

According to the Eating Disorders Coalition, a lobbying group that Maudsley Parents is affiliated with, July 9th is National Call-in Day for mental health parity.

Says the EDC:

The US House of Representatives and the Senate negotiators have reached a final agreement on all the remaining mental health and addiction parity issues. However, approximately $4 billion over 10 years in offsets is needed to pay for the bill and must be found before parity can be brought to the floor in both chambers for final passage. Once an offset has been found, there is commitment from leadership in the House and the Senate to bring the bill up for a vote as quickly as possible.

Although House and Senate leaders have not decided yet where they will find almost $4 billion over 10 years to pay for the cost offsets required by Congressional rules, negotiations have successfully concluded on the key policy provisions. This compromise is the result of long negotiations and advocacy of organizations all across the country. The compromise includes many key provisions that were included in the House-passed bill, the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act and would be an important step in ending insurance discrimination facing people with addiction and mental illness. Here are some key points in the compromise:
- The compromise requires parity in insurance coverage for addiction and mental health treatment for both in-network and out-of-network coverage. This does not mean that the bill requires that insurers cover addiction and mental services, only that if they do cover these services, there must be parity with medical/surgical benefits. This of course would be a very positive development both in requiring fairness in insurance coverage and taking a strong stand against discrimination toward people in recovery or still suffering from addiction and mental illness.

- The compromise requires plans to disclose their medical necessity criteria and reasons for any denials of coverage. This would be a major breakthrough, as many plans refuse to disclose medical necessity criteria or reasons for denial, especially when addiction treatment is sought.

- On the issue of protection of state laws, the compromise bill language is silent. The House bill explicitly protected state laws, and in earlier versions the Senate bill explicitly preempted state laws. Silence is a victory for those of us who agree with the House approach that state laws should be protected, since in most situations Congress must take explicit action to overrule a state law in order for state laws to be preempted. However, to make protection of state laws even more ironclad, we will be working to ensure that the legislative history of the bill makes clear that the sponsors’ intention is to protect all state laws. That way, as important as the passage of a federal parity law would be, stronger state laws would remain in effect and states would be free to enact additional stronger protections in the years to come.

Wednesday July 9th is National Call-in Day so please call your Member of Congress and Senators on July 9th and tell them that now that an agreement has been reached between the House and the Senate, Congress must find the money to fund this historic mental health and addiction parity legislation and pass parity now.

For more information, visit our National Call-in Day Online Advocacy Action Center.On the website you will see background information, a script for the call and a tool you can use to punch in your zip code and get your Member of Congress and Senator’ names and phone numbers.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Take the Parade poll

In this week's issue of Parade magazine, the editors invite readers to go online and vote whether or not “obese” passengers should buy two seats. So far 83% say yes, 17% say no.

Go vote.

UPDATE: The tally is now Yes 57%, No 43%. Woo-hoo!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Be part of an eating disorders study

If you or someone you love has or has had an eating disorder, you (or s/he) might be eligible to be part of one of these ongoing studies. Treatment is often free if you're part of a study. And you're helping advance the pitiful state of e.d. research, which is always a good thing.

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Have you been affected by an eating disorder in the San Diego area? You may qualify to participate in a study that could help clinicians understand and treat eating disorders. Does the following describe you? You are a girl/young woman between the ages of 13 and 25: you are currently in treatment for an eating disorder; you are medically stable; and you have used the internet to look at ANOREXIA websites. Following a brief telephone screening, you will be asked to fill out a brief survey and participate in a one-on-one interview with a doctoral student from Alliant International University. Your total time commitment will be no longer than 2 hours. All identifying information about you will be kept confidential. You will be compensated with a $20 gift card to Westfield Malls (UTC, North County Fair, Horton Plaza, Plaza Bonita) and will be entered into a drawing for one $150 gift card. For more information contact

San Diego, CA: UCSD Researchers Seek Males and Females with Anorexia Nervosa: The UCSD researchers are currently seeking adolescents and adults currently suffering from Anorexia Nervosa to participate in one of their three current studies. To qualify for any of the studies one must be at least 15% below ideal body weight and be fearful of weight gain, despite being underweight. Both adults and adolescents between the ages of 14-45 are needed to participate in a taste study and would be compensated for up to $70 for completing the assessments, taste tests and interview. Adults 18 years of age and older are needed to participate in a randomized control trial of the medication Quetiapine, in which they will receive either the study medication or a placebo. Subjects will be compensated up to $360 for completing study related assessments and the medication treatment. In addition, they are offering several months of family therapy treatment for families with adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 at no cost. The adolescents in this study will also be randomly assigned to receive either the medication Fluoxetine or a placebo. For more information, contact UCSD Eating Disorder Treatment and Research Program at 858-366-2525 or email

San Diego, CA: UCSD Researchers Seek Women Recovered From an Eating Disorder: Help UCSD researchers understand what causes eating disorders. They are seeking female participants between 18 and 45 years of age who are recovered from Anorexia or Bulimia Nervosa. By participating in the study, subjects will be assisting physicians and researchers in developing new treatments for these complex and serious disorders. Subjects will be compensated for your participation in this study. For more information contact the UCSD Eating Disorder Research and Treatment Program at 858-366-2525 or email

Massachusetts Research Study - Massachusetts General Hospital Study of Therapy for Bone Loss in Anorexia Nervosa: The Neuroendocrine Unit of Massachusetts General Hospital is conducting research studies on anorexia-induced bone loss. Their screening study is for men and women age 12-50 with anorexia nervosa. They are investigating causes of osteopenia (or bone loss) in the spine, hip, wrist and total body. The study involves one visit of approximately 3 hours. Their treatment study is for women aged 18-45 with anorexia nervosa and absent or irregular menstrual periods. They are investigating the combined use of a natural hormone and a medication that is effective for bone loss in postmenopausal women as a novel treatment for the bone loss seen in women with anorexia nervosa. They hope that the combination of these two investigational medications will help rebuild depleted bone and prevent further bone breakdown in women with anorexia nervosa. The study consists of 6 visits over 12 months. A stipend of up to $675 is awarded throughout the course of the study. If interested, call Erinne Meenaghan, N.P. at 617-724-7393 or email

Massachusetts: Bulimia Nervosa Study: Free confidential treatment is available to those who are eligible. Do you or someone you know binge eat? Do you or someone you know compensate by vomiting or other extremes? Do you or someone you know have severe moodiness or relationship problems? Researchers are now enrolling participants (ages 18-65) in a free treatment study investigating two active treatments, including education and counseling, for bulimia nervosa. If interested call 617-353-9610 or click here.

New York, NY: NIMH-funded, IRB-Approved Study of Adolescents with Bulimia Nervosa (ages 12 - 21 years). This study takes place at NYSPI/Columbia University and compensation is provided for participation ($100). For more information, contact Laura Berner at 212-543-5316. P.I.: Rachel Marsh, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology, Columbia University/ New York State Psychiatric Institute, phone 212-543-5384, email

New York, NY: The National Institute of Mental Health is sponsoring a multi-center international study to compare two types of family therapy as well as fluoxetine or placebo (an inactive medication) in the treatment of adolescents with anorexia nervosa. They are looking for families with an adolescent with anorexia nervosa between the ages of 12-18 years. Participation involves completing assessment interviews, questionnaires, and engaging in 16 family therapy sessions over the course of nine months with medication continuing for another six months. The study is being held at the Eating Disorders Research Program, The Westchester Division of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Contact the Research Coordinator, Samantha Berthod, MA at 914-997-4395.

Pittsburgh, PA: Seeking Women Recovered from Anorexia or Bulimia Nervosa. Dr. Walter Kaye and his research team at the Eating Disorders Research Program at the University Pittsburgh Medical Center are looking for women who have recovered from anorexia or bulimia nervosa for a research study on brain chemistry in eating disorders. Study participants must be between 18 and 45 years old, medication free (birth control pills acceptable) and not pregnant or nursing. The study involves phone interviews, questionnaires, PET and MRI scans, lab work, physical exam, two visits to Pittsburgh and 8 weeks of fluoxetine (generic form of Prozac). (Note: All expenses incurred during the study, e.g. travel expenses, lab work, physical exam and etc. are paid for by the study.) In addition, eligible participants will be compensated up to $1300 upon completion of the study. For more information, email or Dr. Kathy Plotnicov at or Dr. Sharon Barnes at Interested parties can also call toll-free at 1-866-265-9289 or submit a contact form online here.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

If you live in Scotland, you'd better not be fat

Because if you are, according to the Sunday Herald, your doctor can prescribe Accomplia (generic name: rimonabant) if you haven't "responded to other treatments"--i.e., if you're still fat despite his/her best advice.

That's because Scotland has gone completely bonkers on the subject of fat. Especially when it comes to the children. According to a spokesman for the Scottish National Health Service, "Being overweight or obese during childhood can lead to physical and mental health problems in later life, such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, back pain, low self-esteem and depression."

Maybe he hasn't seen this study on how feeling bad about your weight is much worse for your health than actually being fat.

Accomplia, on the other hand, has been linked to depression and other mental health issues, heart attacks, and suicide. Sounds like a perfect "fix" to me.

Thankfully, not everyone in Scotland has leapt onto the anti-obesity train. The Sunday Herald quotes Dr. Ken Paterson, chairman of the Scottish Medical Consortium, as having said, ". . . our advice is that [the drug] shouldn't be used. . . . People regain weight very quickly when they come off this drug, so the real question is what is the benefit of having a short-term, non-sustained weight reduction? We don't believe it should be in general use."

I worry, I really do, about what life will be like here and elsewhere in 10 or 15 years if you're fat.