People with anorexia are increasingly being encouraged to starve themselves on social media, according to a new report.
Dr Bijal Chheda-Varma, an eating disorder therapist from London’s Nightingale clinic, revealed up to 60% of people who had been referred to her were negatively affected by sites like Twitter and Instagram.
Anorexia patients were apparently being given advice on how to remain thin as part of the pro anorexia (‘pro_ana’) movement, ITV News revealed in an investigation.
‘Ana buddies’ reportedly ‘bully’ each other to shed as many pounds as they could.
There were also separate ‘pro_ana’ websites but users were now reportedly sending more messages on social media and internet forums.
‘We can happily assume a lot of these are being influenced by social media and the input from social media,’ Dr Varma said.
‘Social media is not a cause – we have to be very careful in understanding that – but it is a maintenance factor.’
Bella Lewis, 22, has suffered from anorexia in the past and said social media contributed to her illness.
Ms Lewis, from north London, told ITV News: ‘But they’re making it okay to be ill. It’s basically making it okay to kill yourself, because that is what an eating disorder can do.’
Dr Varma added she did not think social media companies were doing enough to deal with the issue.
Metro.co.uk has contacted Twitter and Facebook for a comment.
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