Washington: Websites promoting eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia, give users a platform to encourage each other, but, on the other hand, recognize eating disorders as a disease, says a study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Stanford University School of Medicine. The study, the first large-scale analysis of pro-eating disorder web sites, points out the complex emotions that eating-disorder patients grapple with and gives valuable insights into the variety of material they encounter online as they seek support from their peers.
"Although pro-eating-disorder Web sites are often portrayed in a black-and-white manner, most of them exist on a continuum," said Peebles. That is likely the result of the mixed feelings eating-disorder patients have about their disease. She added: "Many people with disordered eating behaviours have days when they want to get better, and days they have no interest in getting better. The Web sites reflect the individual characters of the people visiting them." Clinicians who treat eating disorders and family members of eating-disorder patients need to be aware that the sites exist, are easy to access and can help reinforce disordered eating patterns, concluded Peebles. "If these sites make us uncomfortable, the focus at the public health level should be asking how we can reach and treat more people struggling with disordered eating, and how we as providers can become more comfortable with the difficult feelings that people with eating disorders feel. Right now, many patients are going to the Web to express those feelings, instead of handling them through traditional models of care, such as psychotherapy," she said. The study appeared in the American Journal of Public Health. ANI
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