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The Growing Crisis of Eating Disorders in Piedmont: Addressing the Urgent Need for Treatment and Prevention

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The Growing Crisis of Eating Disorders in Piedmont: Addressing the Urgent Need for Treatment and Prevention

Rise in Eating Disorders Cases Sparks Concern in Piedmont Region

The number of patients with eating disorders treated in Piedmontese outpatient clinics has seen a significant surge from 342 in 2019 to 725 in 2022, according to data disclosed by regional health councilor Luigi Icardi. These figures, which net out the so-called undeclared population, reveal an alarming situation in Piedmont where approximately 260 new cases of anorexia and 450 cases of bulimia are being diagnosed each year. In response to this emergency, the Network of regional services for the prevention and treatment of nutrition and eating disorders has been activated. This integrated organization provides outpatient, hospital, and rehabilitation care, consisting of six levels of patient management and care.

To further address this growing crisis, Verduno hospital has recently opened five dedicated beds for eating disorders since September 2022. This move has been hailed as a crucial step in providing specialized care for those suffering from these conditions. Dr. Elisa Colombi, head of child neuropsychiatry at ASL Cn2, and Cloè Dalla Costa, director of the complex structure of clinical nutrition and eating disorders at the “Michele and Pietro Ferrero” hospital, have emphasized the need for a collaborative approach involving professionals, schools, families, and all parties involved in the lives of adolescents.

Dr. Colombi points out that the situation has become increasingly complex with younger patients experiencing eating disorders alongside other symptoms such as self-harm, anxiety, social isolation, and depression. The fluctuating nature of these conditions adds to the challenge of providing appropriate treatment. Dr. Dalla Costa reveals a recent trend of an increase in the age of patients, with individuals over 15 and even over 19 seeking treatment for eating disorders in the first half of 2023. This highlights the need for developing tailored treatment plans to accommodate different age groups.

The path towards healing eating disorders involves integrating psychological and nutritional aspects and forging alliances with family members and those closest to the patients. The treatment process includes clinical evaluations, dietary interventions, and close monitoring of eating habits to establish healthy patterns. For severe cases, such as those with internal problems or exhibiting self-harming tendencies, the Verduno hospital provides specialized care with five dedicated beds. Previously, the Regina Margherita hospital in Turin was the sole provider of such services in the area.

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The addition of these beds in Verduno is seen as a significant step forward in addressing the needs of patients with eating disorders in the region. Dr. Colombi emphasizes the importance of creating a dedicated space equipped with resources, specialized settings, and a compassionate supply chain. The ultimate goal is to provide comprehensive and professional care to aid in the recovery and well-being of those affected by these disorders.

With the alarming increase in eating disorders cases in Piedmont, it has become imperative for the healthcare system to work towards improving prevention, identification, and treatment of these conditions. The activation of the Network of regional services, along with the dedicated beds in Verduno hospital, marks a positive stride in addressing this pressing public health concern. Through continued efforts and collaboration, it is hoped that more individuals struggling with eating disorders can access the care and support they need for their recovery.

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