Docs Demand Crackdown on Pro-Anorexia Websites

Websites offer 'thinspiration' to anorexic, bulimic teens

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 18, 2009 1:51 AM CDT

(Newser) – Doctors are calling for urgent action to combat the growing number of websites promoting eating disorders as a lifestyle choice, the Independent reports. The sites encourage young women to become anorexic and bulimic, doctors warn, offering tips on how to deal with the pain of extreme hunger during starvation and how to conceal excessive weight loss from families and doctors. Extremely thin models are pictured as "thinspiration."

Britain's Royal College of Psychiatrists says that one in 10 adolescent girls look at such websites repeatedly. "This is not a rare problem; it affects a significant number of schoolchildren," warned the head of the college's eating disorders unit. "Studies have shown that girls who looked at these sites have low self-esteem, feel bad about their bodies and are miserable." The RCP urged the government to mark such sites as harmful and step up education efforts .

Two young women walk past an anti-anorexia ad in Milan, Italy.   (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
Patients in eating disorders units spend up to 20 hours a week looking at pro-anorexia and bulimia websites, a psychiatrist warns.   (Shutter Stock)
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There is a vulnerable group of women who are being sucked into this. - Professor Ulrike Schmidt, chair of the Royal College of Physicians'
Eating Disorders Section

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