SOURCE: National Eating Disorders Association

August 01, 2005 08:00 ET

National Eating Disorders Association Calls New TV Sitcom 'Starved' 'No Laughing Matter'

NEDA Urges Advertisers and Viewers to Boycott 'Tasteless' and 'Dangerous' Show

FX Networks' Message Boards Reflect Potential Viewers' Dismay and Reveal Sufferers Hoping to Garner 'Tips' From Show

SEATTLE, WA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- August 1, 2005 -- The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is vehemently speaking out against the new TV sitcom, "Starved," set to debut on FX Networks, Aug. 4 at 10 p.m.

"Starved" chronicles the lives of four 30-something friends, three men and one woman, who reside in Brooklyn and are battling various eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating.

In the U.S., nearly 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life-and-death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Approximately 25 million more struggle with binge eating disorder. More than one in three "normal dieters" progresses to pathological dieting. One fourth of those will suffer from partial- or full-syndrome eating disorders. Long-term physical health implications of eating disorders include heart failure, kidney damage, esophagus, colon and intestinal problems, osteoporosis, tooth decay and hair loss. Of those diagnosed with long-term anorexia, 20 percent will ultimately die as a direct result. In fact, anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, about 12 times higher than the annual death rate due to all causes of death among females ages 15-24. However, although eating disorders are potentially lethal, they are treatable.

Comments Lynn Grefe, CEO of NEDA, who has previewed the pilot episode of "Starved," "Eating disorders are illnesses, not choices, and certainly no laughing matter. For anyone who has battled an eating disorder, watched a loved one do so, or lost a child to the illness, it's no joke. This appalling and reprehensible program 'Starved' is starved for any empathy toward those affected by the illness.

"More than tasteless, 'Starved' may be dangerous," continues Grefe, "leading some sufferers to identify with the characters, justify their own behavior and resist treatment. Americans wouldn't find it acceptable to ridicule and mock people with physical disabilities or a disease like leukemia and I don't believe they'll find it tolerable to satirize mental illness. We urge both advertisers and viewers to boycott such a hurtful and damaging show and ask that it be taken off the air quickly. NEDA hopes to steer people affected toward treatment, not ridicule."

"The portrayals of people with eating disorders in 'Starved' are cartoonish, shameful and destructive," adds Douglas Bunnell, Ph.D., a member of the NEDA board of directors and clinical director of the Renfrew Center in Connecticut, who has also reviewed the show. "The depictions of actual sufferers' behavior are so extreme as to make them entirely unbelievable and fantastic, belying the reality of virtually all patients."

Clearly, even before "Starved's" debut, potential viewers agree. The vast majority of comments posted on FX's own Web site on a message board about the show are extremely negative, calling the show "sick," "twisted" and "offensive" and proclaiming that "FX should be ashamed." In that venue, at least one FX viewer announced her own boycott of the entire network based on her reaction to a promo of "Starved" on the site.

But unfortunately, as feared, some eating disorder sufferers who have posted messages are eagerly anticipating that the show will reveal "tips" to advance their disordered behavior.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), headquartered in Seattle, Wash., is the largest not-for-profit organization in the country dedicated to supporting research for the prevention, treatment and cure of eating disorders; supporting state legislative and advocacy efforts for access to treatment; expanding public education and awareness of eating disorders; promoting access and providing referrals to quality treatment for those affected; providing support for their loved ones. Since the inception of its Helpline in 1999, NEDA has referred more than 50,000 people to treatment and tallies more than 40 million hits annually on its Web site.

For treatment referrals, visit www.NationalEatingDisorders.org

Or contact NEDA's live Helpline:  800-931-2237
Monday:  9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. PST
Tuesday:  1 - 4:30 p.m. PST
Wednesday:  9 a.m. -  4:30 p.m. PST
Thursday:  10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. PST
Friday:  1:30 - 4:30 p.m. PST

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Vicki Greenleaf
    Greenleaf & Associates
    323-660-5800
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