Eating disorder research program to improve lives of young Victorians

Eating disorder research program to improve lives of young Victorians

6 June 2022

Eating disorder research program to improve lives of young Victorians

Young Victorians experiencing eating disorders will soon benefit from a new research program funded by the Victorian Government that will improve health services and increase opportunities for early intervention.

Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford announced $500,000 in funding for a dedicated youth eating disorder research program at Orygen, Australia’s leading youth mental health not-for-profit and home to the world’s largest youth mental health research institute.

Through the new program, Orygen will work with Australian eating disorder experts to develop more effective early intervention care and treatment to better support the one-million Australians who are estimated to be experiencing disordered eating at any time.

The program will undertake research into youth eating disorders and partner with national and international leaders in the sector to improve the understanding of disordered eating within the youth mental health system.

Research shows that adolescents are at greatest risk of disordered eating, with the average age of onset for an eating disorder between 12 and 25 years. Eating disorders also disproportionately affect women, with up to 63 per cent of Australian cases identifying as female.

Orygen Chief of Research Professor Eóin Killackey said that like other mental ill-health, eating disorders usually develop during adolescence and early adulthood.

“We know that if we can provide effective interventions and treatments early, we can mitigate against a range of long-term health, social and economic impacts for young people with eating disorders.

“Orygen welcomes this funding from the Victorian Government which will enable our researchers to work with partners nationally and internationally to better understand eating disorders and develop new and more effective approaches to early intervention care and treatment,” said Professor Killackey.  

Support for the new research program follows the commitment of $20 million delivered in the Victorian Budget 2022/23 for eating disorder support. The Budget funding will help almost 3,200 Victorians, a 1,100 person increase on the number of Victorians treated for eating disorders last year.

As part of Victoria’s response to the Royal Commission into Mental Health, the Victorian Budget also included funding to develop a new statewide eating disorders strategy. The new approach will ensure Victoria has a more systemic and coordinated response to support people living with eating disorders and their loved ones.