Pro-Anorexic Bloggers

Eating disorder support and intervention methods could learn a thing or two from anorexia bloggers

(RxWiki News) Blogs about anorexia can be dangerous. And just wrong. But some open communication and support systems of anorexia blogs could help treat this disorder.

A recent study asked pro-anorexia bloggers questions about their blogs. Results showed that most blogs did not promote anorexia as a lifestyle.

"Talk to a doctor if you have anorexia."

Nicole Martins, PhD, assistant professor of telecommunications, and Daphna Yeshua-Katz, doctoral student in telecommunications, at Indiana University, led an investigation into the pro-anorexic blogging community.

For the study, researchers contacted 300 pro-anorexic bloggers for interviews. A total of 33 of those bloggers from seven countries participated in interviews.

Pro-anorexia blogs are blogs that talk about the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa.

Responders were all women between the ages of 15-33. Results of the study showed that most of the bloggers were not writing to promote an anorexic agenda.

Rather, their motivation came from looking for a non-judgmental way to communicate with other people in their same boat.

Bloggers were reaching out for social support. A total of 6 out of 33 bloggers said blogging gave them a different reality. Several of the bloggers, 8 out of 33, said they had met people from their blogging community in person.

Most of the women, 27 out of 33, accurately labeled their eating disorder as a mental illness. Only five of the bloggers claimed they had started their blog to promote anorexia.

Many of the bloggers used their online communication as a way to get used to talking about their anorexia before seeking medical help.

Dr. Martins said, “From the outside looking in, this looks like a really disturbing community, but I think that the fact that these women are able to find support from one another and find a place where someone understands what they’re going through is a really good thing.”

The authors go on to suggest that anorexia-recovery websites and support groups should tap into what makes the pro-anorexia websites supportive and engaging.

Yeshua-Katz said, “By knowing what they’re doing in those blogs, we might be able to find better ways to provide online support.”

This study was published in August in Health Communication. No financial information was given and no conflicts of interest were found.

Review Date: 
August 20, 2012