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Eat Weight Disord. 2006 Jun;11(2):e68-71.

Eating disorders and the Internet: cure and curse.

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  • 1Eating Disorders Center, Department of Neurosciences, Psychiatric Institute, University of Turin, 10126 Turino, Italy.



The role of culture and the mass-media in relation to eating disorders (EDs) is widely acknowledged, and the Internet has become an important part of this over the last few years. The aim of this report is to suggest the general features and potential clinical implications of "pro-Ana" websites and those concerning the treatment of EDs.


We conducted a Google search using the key words "anorexia nervosa (AN) and treatment", "AN and psychotherapy", "AN and pharmacotherapy", and then "pro-anorexia", "pro-ana sites", "thinspiration" and "anorexicnation".


The first group of queries gave respectively 546,000, 212,000 and 39,100 results; the second 257,000, 18,600, 14,200 and 577. Forty-seven of 100 randomly selected pro-ana websites were thoroughly visited.


Internet websites may increase the accessibility of treatments but also strengthen some of the core psychopathological and symptomatological issues of AN, such as asceticism, competition, purging behaviours and obsession for control. Greater attention should be paid to the health policy of countries in which pro-ana websites flourish, and the clinical implications of the websites themselves.

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