“Like shouting fire,” is how Chris Athas, Vice President of the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders describes Pro Anorexia web sites. “These people with these sites claim that they are representing a lifestyle, but they are representing a dangerous illness.”
The creators of pro ana sites claim they are offering support to their users. Support in the form of secret diets designed to keep your calorie intake under 200 per day, illegal sale of diet drugs, and tips like drinking hot water with a bullion cube (“only 5 calories and they taste wonderful”)
Is your child wearing a red beaded bracelet? This could be a symbol of their participation in the pro-ana community.
Today I read about a new study with some facts you need to be aware of.
“Surfing for Thinness: A Pilot Study of Pro-Eating Disorder Web Site Usage in Adolescents with Eating Disorders,” published this week in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, she and her colleagues reported the results of a survey of eating-disorder patients and their parents.
They found that patients who used pro-eating-disorder sites were sick longer and spent less time doing schoolwork. Patients who used both pro-eating-disorder and pro-recovery sites were admitted to the hospital more times than nonusers.
A few other key findings:
96% of respondents who visited pro-eating-disorder sites said they learned new weight loss or purging techniques….scary statistic, but the study goes on to say 46% learned new weight loss or purging techniques on the pro-recovery sites as well.
Seven out of 10 users of pro-eating-disorder sites said they used the new techniques they learned; a third used new diet pills, supplements or laxatives. Parents had little knowledge of their teen’s visits to these sites.
In November, the Academy for Eating Disorders issued a warning about the proliferation of sites promoting anorexia and asked government officials and Internet service providers to require warning screens for them. AED president Eric van Furth suggested a statement like “Warning: anorexia nervosa is a potentially deadly illness. The site you are about to enter provides material that may be detrimental to your health.” Parents, take note.