Online Care to Save Girls from Eating Disorders

Article excerpt

Byline: SOPHIE GOODCHILD

SIMPLE online treatments could save many women from developing "sizezero" eating disorders, experts said today.

Research shows computer-based therapy has a dramatic impact on those at riskfrom anorexia and bulimia.

Experts at City University found "do-it-yourself " psychological treatmentsaccessed over the internet could boost self-esteem as well as reducing concernsabout shape and weight.

The findings are based on a survey of 1,107 female students, aged 17 to 36, whowere asked to "self-administer" by completing computer-based questionnaires.

These included completing a daily "food log" to help identify specific triggersfor abnormal eating.

Despina Learmonth, who led the study, called for online treatment to be mademore widely available.

She said: "Eating disorders seem to be becoming increasingly prevalent inWestern societies and they are difficult illnesses to treat.

"The cost of treatment for them is extremely high. It's vital that successfuland easy-to-administer prevention programmes are developed and made availableto those in need." Anorexia has one of the highest mortality rates of anypsychiatric illness. It can also lead to problems such as infertility and heartcomplaints.

Traditional approaches to eating disorders involve hospital stays and areintensive and costly.

An additional problem is diagnosis. A person with bulimia, for example, maymaintain a normal body weight so their condition can go unnoticed for years.

The "size zero" computer therapy is aimed at people with low self-esteem. It isbased on treatments used by psychologists to enable patients to overcomenegative thinking patterns. …