|How old am I:||I'm 44 years old|
This is the vocabulary of a burgeoning subculture of web sites known as "pro-ana," meaning pro-anorexia. Created primarily by young women who have anorexia or bulimia, or are in recovery from one or both of the disorders, these sites have been making headlines and horrifying parents and doctors for several years. The sites speak of anorexia and bulimia as if they were almost human, hence the names Ana and Mia.
The illnesses are treated almost like beloved but demanding and relentless old friends.
Pro-anorexia web sites: the thin web line
They feature photos of rail-thin actresses and models as "thinspiration," and offer tips on suppressing hunger pangs and hiding the evidence of missed periods or vomiting spells. But what's most important, say the sites' creators and visitors, is the support they find from people who understand what they're going through.
At sites like mine, people can talk about what they're feeling without being judged. There's no doubt that sites like Lizzy's are shocking and troubling. But are they doing real harm, or are they just provoking a lot of controversy?
Bunnell thinks they're doing serious harm. Patients are supported in their illnesses and encouraged to stay ill by these web sites," he says.
Things drawing someone toward that illness can be quite damaging. Until recently, no studies have looked at the real-life usage of pro-ana sites by people with eating disorders, or at the health effects that might go hand in hand with visiting such sites. In MayStanford researchers presented the of what they say is the first study deed to assess the health impact of visiting these sites, which out "pro-recovery" web sites by a factor of five to one.
The weren't as clear-cut as you might expect, explains Rebecka Peebles, MD, a specialist in adolescent medicine at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.
She co-authored the study with medical student Jenny Wilson. Did those who spent time on "pro-ana" sites have more health problems, or more difficulty in recovery, than those who didn't? Yes and no. Although respondents who visited the sites reported spending less time on school work and more time in the hospital, in terms of many other health measures, they seemed no different than the other respondents.
Factors included their weight compared with their ideal body weight, the duration of the eating disorder, their of missed periods, and whether or not they appeared to be developing osteoporosis. We counsel teens to not use them, and I think we probably need to know more accurately just what kind of effect they have," Peebles says.
If it really doesn't have an effect on their outcomes, there are other things to invest time in. While it's far too soon to come to that kind of conclusion, Peebles notes that there are things that parents and health professionals can learn about young people's needs from the "pro-ana" sites.
Inside the disturbing online world of anorexic ‘coaching’
They're really seeking information about their illness, really questioning," she says. It's not easy. There are a of good pro-recovery sites, Peebles observes. One of the best-known and most popular is www.
‘anorexia coaches’ on kik app prey on people with eating disorders
But even such sites can be misused to encourage unhealthy behaviors. If, for example, a bulimic in recovery posts the story of how she used to make herself throw up by using a toothbrushan adolescent with bulimia will likely skip the paragraphs about how horrible the experience was and simply walk away with a new tool for purging.
What's more, many pro-recovery sites, no matter how well done they are, are created by parents, doctors, counselors -- in short, adults.
That's a complicated proposition: how do you create such a site that remains teen-friendly, but doesn't worsen the eating disorder, while at the same time not making it patronizing? Peebles hopes future research will shed light on that question, but acknowledges that it's a challenging task. Lizzy, for her part, says she strives to make sure her site addresses the dark realities of eating disorders, rather than merely glamorizing them. It's the best!
Often, people will her asking that she "teach them" how to be anorexic or bulimic. I tell them to read the sections about how it's not fun and games. It's not glamorous. I want them to know about the pain and the physical damage that comes from it, how you're cold all the time and you can't walk up the stairs because you have no energy.
How your hair falls out and your skin gets all gross and yellow, and you start burning your muscles and the organs. People don't think about that. Reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD. From the WebMD Archives.
First Study of Anorexia Sites Until recently, no studies have looked at the real-life usage of pro-ana sites by people with eating disorders, or at the health effects that might go hand in hand with visiting such sites. Continued The weren't as clear-cut as you might expect, explains Rebecka Peebles, MD, a specialist in adolescent medicine at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. Anorexia Sites Offer Lessons to Be Learned While it's far too soon to come to that kind of conclusion, Peebles notes that there are things that parents and health professionals can learn about young people's needs from the "pro-ana" sites.
Continued What's more, many pro-recovery sites, no matter how well done they are, are created by parents, doctors, counselors -- in short, adults. Missing Teeth?