Shannon beat her deadly condition, she believes others can too with funding boost

22 Jan, 2022

Shannon Calvert spent decades struggling with life-threatening anorexia and bulimia before finding the right help and is working with a new national research centre to find better treatments for the 1 million Australians who live with an eating disorder.

“It was really difficult and quite traumatic to try and access appropriate care, which was very limited and under resourced,” Ms Calvert said. “There were a few times over the years when we were planning for my end of life because it impacted me so significantly, and all doors were closed because people just felt that I was treatment resistant.”

The National Eating Disorder Centre, to be set up with $13 million of federal funding, will be led by the University of Sydney’s InsideOut Institute and coordinate research into innovative treatments for disorders including anorexia and bulimia, which have stubbornly low recovery rates.

InsideOut Institute Director Sarah Maguire said a lack of research meant there were only two evidence-based treatments available for eating disorders – cognitive behavioural therapy and family-based therapy – which were not always successful. Only about half of people diagnosed with an eating disorder recover.

“We need to innovate and get some major breakthroughs in effective treatments within the next few years,” Dr Maguire said.