Online Anorexia

It is frightening how easy it is to come upon pro-anorexia websites online. Simply type ‘pro-ana’ into Google and about 8,500,000 results are generated. The first page of results shows a number of different pro anorexia outlets; blogs, weight loss websites, images and videos.

'Pro-ana' image

'Pro-ana' image

There is no way of screening who has access to these sites. A disclaimer appears on the home page of some sites warning users of the dangers associated with ‘pro-ana’ but the fact is that it shouldn’t be so easy to access these homepages to begin with. Blogs play a huge role in the pro-anorexia movement and they give peolpe suffering from anorexia a simple and effective way to communicate. It is understandable that people suffering from the disease find ‘pro-ana’ blogs supportive but it can’t be denied that the fact that these blogs are so easily accessible is very dangerous. They often offer tips and tricks for losing weight in the most unhealthy manner and they promote anorexic behaviour.

These ‘pro ana’ websites and blogs have existed for a long time but the use of social networking sites such as Facebook as an outlet for pro anorexia is relatively new and becoming increasingly more popular. On one Facebook group, a user asks: “How can I convince myself not to be hungry?! I want to be thinner, a lot thinner!!”

It seems as though there is no way to regulate pro anorexia online and with the current trend for blogging and social networking on the rise, the problem is only going to get worse.

ITV recently aired a documentary about online anorexia in which Fearne Cotton immerses herself in the worrying world of pro-ana websites. The video below features the first part of this documentary.

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