February 07, 2002

Debbie Neufert
Media Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 74772


New Eating Disorders Program at London Health Sciences Centre offers full treatment closer to home

(LONDON, Ontario) - Teenagers in London and across Southwestern Ontario, struggling with an eating disorder, will now be able to get the help they need in their own community. London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) has announced the opening of its new Eating Disorders Program during Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

LHSC's program is the first comprehensive support and treatment program for those battling eating disorders in Southwestern Ontario. Until now, many patients needed to travel to Toronto for a full treatment program.

LHSC's new Eating Disorders Program will provide consultation, assessment and treatment for children up to 18 years of age who have an eating disorder. The program is well rounded offering day treatment, inpatient and outpatient treatment by a multi-disciplinary team of a psychiatrist, psychologist, dietitian, social workers, child and youth counselors, and nursing staff. In addition, the program includes a one-time consultation for those between 18 and 25 years of age.

Part of the program will also include an Outreach Project, allowing the opportunity for eating disorder patients to receive as much treatment as possible in their own community. The Outreach Project, which is in its initial stages of implementation, will include partners in Windsor, Chatham, Sarnia, Woodstock, Goderich, Stratford and Owen Sound.

Chief of Psychiatry at LHSC, Dr. Sandra Fisman, says, "LHSC's Eating Disorders program will really fill a need in the community. The Hospital's new program will allow us for the first time to treat every aspect of an eating disorder."

Fisman adds, "We know that eating disorders are tied to emotions. The program will provide an opportunity to address issues, such as low self-esteem and lack of confidence, at a much younger age. With early intervention and treatment, we are confident that children and adolescents at risk can develop healthy attitudes toward nutrition, lifestyle and body image."

In order to enter the program, patients must contact their family physician first for a referral.

LHSC's Eating Disorders Program, made possible by $899,000 in funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, is part of the Child and Adolescent Centre in the Mental Health Care Program at the Hospital.

A recent LHSC study showed that there is a high prevalence of anorexia and bulimia nervosa among teenage girls in high schools in London, Middlesex, Elgin and Oxford counties, and there is a need for early intervention. In addition, the results indicated that these teenage girls are also battling Mood and Anxiety Disorders, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorders. The study also revealed a high rate of concern with body weight and body image among teenage girls.

London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC)
Eating Disorders Program - Fact Sheet

  • An eating disorder is a serious mental health problem. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are eating disorders in which people are obsessed with weight and shape. Those with anorexia nervosa have dangerously low body weight and follow extremely strict diets. Those with bulimia nervosa often are a normal weight, but use binge eating and purging to control their weight.

  • The LHSC Eating Disorders Program includes:

    Inpatient Treatment - For those who have serious medical needs as a result of an eating disorder and require hospitalization.

    Day Treatment - For those who need a great deal of help in overcoming an eating disorder. The program runs Monday to Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Meals, schooling and therapy are provided. There is also support for patients and their families through a group that meets in the evening once a week.

    Outpatient Treatment - Offers individual, family, and/or group counseling. Education and treatment are provided for patients and their families.

  • LHSC's Eating Disorders Program is located at LHSC's Victoria Campus at 800 Commissioners Rd. E.

  • An LHSC study, released in 2001 and led by LHSC's Dr. Sandra Fisman, Chief of Psychiatry, and Dr. Vicky Veitch Wolfe, LHSC Psychologist, was one of the few studies in North America to look closely at what is happening with eating disorders in the adolescent population. The study showed teenage girls in London and several surrounding communities have a high prevalence of anorexia nervosa. In addition, the results showed that these teenage girls are also struggling with Mood and Anxiety Disorders and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). -Results showed: Prevalence of Anorexia was estimated at 5.5% for girls, and 1.1% for boys. Prevalence for Bulimia was estimated at 2.6% for girls and zero for boys.

    - 1,000 students, from London, Middlesex, Oxford and Elgin counties were studied in both the Public and Catholic School Boards.
    - the students were in grades 7-13, ranging in age from 11-20.
    - two-thirds of the 1,000 students were female.
    - half of the study population lived in rural areas, the other half lived in a city.