The words of the teacher UCBM Laura Della Ragione

"The XII National Day against Eating Disorders must be an opportunity to reflect on a phenomenon that is dramatically increasing in Italy and take concrete action to prevent and support patients and their families. Perhaps not everyone knows that there is a national toll-free number, 800180969, an anonymous and free service available to everyone”. To say it is Laura Dalla Ragione, psychiatrist, director of the Eating Disorders Network (DCA) Usl1 of Umbria, teacher of the Master's Degree Course in Food sciences and human nutrition atUniversità Campus Bio-Medico di Roma as well as director of the "SOS Eating Disorders" toll-free number established in Todi by the Presidency of the Council and the Istituto Superiore di Sanità. 

"In the early 2000s there were around 300 thousand people suffering from eating disorders in Italy, today there are over 3 million – continues Dalla Ragione - A phenomenon on the rise, especially among adolescents, for whom diagnoses related to eating and nutrition disorders represent the second cause of death in Italy after road accidents. A dramatic phenomenon that has worsened further during the pandemic and the lockdowns: data from the Ministry of Health tell us that there has been a 30% increase in cases, especially among the very young. The National toll-free number “SOS eating disorders” reports a drastic increase in requests for help which doubled in 2020 and tripled in 2023". 

"In Italy in 2023 alone, there were 3.780 deaths from diseases linked to eating disorders, they are now the first cause of death among adolescents after road accidents and every year more and more new cases are intercepted (according to data from the Ministry of Health in 2019 there were 680.569 and they progressively grew until they reached 2023 in 1.680.456) - adds Dalla Ragione - The consequences of Dca are depression, limitation of social and working life, compromise of the cardiac and gastrointestinal systems, osteoporosis, death due to cardiac arrest or suicide. The causes of death are linked to medical complications and high suicide rates. Mortality data are increasing, but very uneven across the territory: more deaths occur in regions where there are no specialized structures. The network of multidisciplinary clinics in Italy - he continues - has constituted an important step forward in the path of patient care, but is still present in a too uneven way across Italy: of the 126 structures registered in 2023 by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, the greatest number of centers (63) are located in the Northern regions (20 in Emilia Romagna and 15 in Lombardy), in the Center there are 23 (of which 8 in Lazio and 6 in Umbria), 40 are distributed between the South and the Islands (12 in Campania and 7 in Sicily). Fortunately, the Meloni government has decided to refinance it for 2025National Fund for combating Nutrition and Eating Disorders, but we are still waiting to see the DCAs included in the Essential Levels of Assistance (Lea)".  

For Dalla Ragione, author together with Raffaela Vanzetta of “Social Hunger. Adolescence, social media and eating disorders" (Scientific Thought publisher) “those who work in the field of eating disorders have found themselves in recent years having to fight against a very powerful factor in the spread of the disorder: social media. Today the channels through which boys and girls can actingEras of information about dangerous methods for losing weight have multiplied dramatically. And not only that: apps for calorie counting or energy expenditure are available to everyone, and even the simple use of social media has an influence ontostibut it contributes to changing the body image of those who use it, leading to an increase in depressive symptoms, the internalization of ideals of thinness, and body monitoring practices. Time spent on social media and the development of eating disorders therefore appear to be strongly correlated".