NZ-based eating disorder study reveals huge financial toll for families

Source: 1News

The huge financial toll of supporting a family member through an eating disorder has been revealed in a new study.

Nicki Wilson, president of the Eating Disorders Association, said some are being forced to take out loans, sell cars or give up their jobs to support someone at home. 

“Families really are very disrupted by their loved one’s illness. It’s really very distressing for the individual and the family,” she said. 

The study by the University of Otago in Christchurch involving more than 130 families found 10 per cent of carers took out loans and 25 per cent stopped working. 

The study also found 75 per cent of carers said their productivity has more than halved, and 30 per cent took an average of 46 sick days a year. Twenty-nine per cent also paid for private care, which can cost upwards of $10,000. 

University of Otago associate professor Jenny Jordan said because the main part of treatment for people with an eating disorder was nutrition, parents had to be there for every meal their child had. 

“It can take ages,” Jordan said. 

She’s calling for the Government to do more.

“There needs to be some recognition of the extra costs they’re running up as well.”

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said in a statement most DHBs offer travel and accommodation support for family members when someone had to travel out of their area for treatment.