Teen and Young Adult Health Program

Eating Disorders Prevention and Treatment in Maine


Eating disorders include a variety of illnesses such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating. These illnesses affect people of all ages, but are more common in teens, young adults, and females. They are serious mental and physical health problems that can be life-threatening. Coordination between different professionals is critical to effective prevention and treatment of eating disorders .

  • Nationally, it is estimated that:
    • 1% of young women ages 10-20 have anorexia.
    • 4% of young adult women have bulimia.
    • 1% of all women have a binge-eating disorder.
  • In 2007, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey(YRBS) (www.mainecshp.com/survey.html) showed that in Maine:
    • 46% of students were trying to lose weight, while only a quarter were *overweight or were *at risk of becoming overweight.
    • 64% of high school girls reported they were then trying to lose weight.
    • 4 times as many girls believed they were overweight than actually were.
    • Of all those trying to lose weight, 10% used fasting, 5% used diet pills, 6% vomited.  All of these methods are unhealthy methods of weight loss, and may be early signs of an eating disorder.

*The Maine CDC has switched the terms overweight and at risk of becoming overweight to obese and overweight, respectively, based on recommendations by The Expert Committee, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics – Dec 2008

In 2007 Nancy Birkhimer of the Teen and Young Adult Health Program co-chaired an Eating Disorders work group with along with Mary Orear from Mainely Girls. The mission of the Eating Disorders Work Group was to:

  • To promote healthy eating habits, physical activity, positive self-esteem and body image;
  • To provide early identification for effective treatment;
  • To identify and increase eating disorders prevention and treatment resources in Maine; and
  • To reduce the number of people with eating disorders in Maine.

As a result, beginning in January 2008, twenty-one Maine communities have teams in place that are trained to provide coordinated health care treatment for those with eating disorders. Teams consisting of at least one medical practitioner, therapist, and registered dietitian are in Augusta, Bangor, Belfast, Blue Hill, Calais, Camden, Caribou, Colby, Damariscotta, Ellsworth, Farmington, Lewiston, Portland, Skowhegan, South Portland, Unity, Waterville, Windham, and York-Kennebunk-Scarborough, and at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, and the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland.

If you or someone you know is in need of a treatment team in any of these communities or in other areas of Maine please contact:

Mary Orear
Executive Director
(207) 230-0170
email:  megirls@midcoast.com

Website:  http://www.mainelygirls.org/eating-disorders/

The State Physical Activity and Nutrition Plan (www.healthymainepartnerships.org/panp/PANP_plan_2005_2010.aspx) also addresses eating disorders by including these two objectives:

  • Reduce the number of people with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
  • Reduce the proportion of Maine people who use weight loss strategies that endanger their health.

Currently, there is no specific funding for eating disorder prevention, but there are a number of opportunities for programs to work together and pool their resources to better address eating disorders.


See above: Mary Orear, Mainely Girls http://www.mainelygirls.org/eating-disorders/

If you think you may have an eating disorder, or have a friend you think may have an eating disorder, please call the Statewide Crisis Hotline (1-888-568-1112) in emergency or the Statewide Warm Line at 211.

Information on Providers in Maine can be found through one or more of the following web-based referral systems:

School nurses and guidance counselors may also know of local resources.

General information for teens and parents can be found at:

Resources for teachers can be found at:

Please note providing this information does not imply endorsement of any organization or its resources. The Teen and Young Adult Health Program, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Maine Department of Health & Human Services are not responsible for the content or materials posted on these links.