Former Miss America is spreading awareness on the dangers of eating disorders by opening up about her own battle with anorexia.
Miss America 2008, Kirsten Haglund made an appearance at the State Capitol on Thursday to advocate and spread awareness on the dangers of eating disorders and body image concerns faced by Missourians during the 5th Annual Missouri Eating Disorders Advocacy Day.
“I do a lot of work speaking with young women around the country of various ages; from elementary school up through college,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many of them see their friends participating in dangerous dieting behavior and they tease or get teased and they think this is just a phase or it’s just what people do. But so many parents are under that illusion as well, and they think that their child will just grow out of it,” Haglund said. “And then they lose their child in five years, seven years, or ten years because they struggled with this illness.”
Haglund says she struggled with anorexia as a teenager and urges people to understand that eating disorders are not a phase, it’s a complex mental health issue that requires adequate care and needs to be taken seriously. She says her battle with anorexia began at age 12, and was able to make a full recovery by the time she graduated high school at age 17.
She credits her recovery process to great professional treatment. “Eventually, the goal is insurance reform; the mandate for insurance reform so that every person who struggles with an eating disorder can get the access immediately to the high level of care that they need so they can be recovered and go on to live a healthy, full, productive life,” Haglund said.
Haglund says 15 states have already adopted the insurance reform so that people can get access to care. Missouri legislators are working on a bill that would require all health insurance carriers to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders.
AUDIO: Listen to the full interview with Miss America 2008, Kirsten Haglund here. (10:27)
AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (1:05)