After recovering from anorexia, Saffran reinvents the broken system to treat eating disorders
Equip Health CEO Kristina Saffran sits down with Bambi Francisco Roizen for the VatorNews podcast.
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Here are some takeaways –
– Kristina was diagnosed with anorexia at the age of 10 and had problems throughout her adolescence. When she was 15, she learned during her recovery that 80% of the 30 million Americans who suffer from eating disorders are not receiving treatment. So she started a nonprofit to raise money for people who couldn’t afford treatment. This organization had 40 chapters across the country.
– The catalyst behind Equip was the number of advances in outpatient treatment that didn’t make it from science to business. People were just going into expensive home care. All the improvements in the system were nothing more than plugging holes in a broken system.
– How can you tell if a child has anorexia or is just a picky, persistent eater? It comes down to how much the brain is monopolized when it comes to thinking about food. If your child is not going to birthday parties because they are afraid that the food will be served, this is a good sign that they are having a disorder while eating.
– Eating disorders have the strongest genetic and neurobiological basis of all mental illnesses. This is one of the reasons Equip uses family-based treatments. We should not treat disorder as an individual illness, but rather as something that affects the entire family and the support system. A person can cognitively know that what they are doing is dangerous to them. But they struggle with behavior changes. This is where families can come in and help control these behaviors so one person doesn’t fight alone.
– Another problem with the treatment of eating disorders through our current system is sending people to the highest level of care and intensity of treatment. In this way, a person is removed from the home environment where they actually have the best chance of getting better. At the end of the day, a person has to return home.
– In the brain of people with eating disorders, the brain is not focused on rewards, but on consequences. So instead of saying “I’ll buy you a car” as a reward for someone who does something good, it is better to face consequences. I will give you this meal. You can’t do what you want to do until you finish eating. For people with eating disorders, the restrictions calm down.