BAN OREXIA; Justice Chiefs Urged to Outlaw Internet Sites Backing Diet Disease

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), May 17, 2009 | Go to article overview

BAN OREXIA; Justice Chiefs Urged to Outlaw Internet Sites Backing Diet Disease


Byline: MARK AITKEN

WEBSITES that promote anorexia are facing a campaign to outlaw them.

MSPs want the UK Government to introduce laws that fine or jail owners of sites promoting self-harm.

There are around 500 "pro-ana" websites promoting the eating disorder which kills up to one in 10 sufferers.

Many show disturbing images of anorexics and offer tips on vomiting and using laxatives to lose weight.

TV presenter Fearne Cotton is furious at the sites after one portrayed her as a role model.

The SNP's Kenneth Gibson, backed in a Scottish Parliament motion by fellow MSPs, called on Westminster to crack down on the websites.

More than 80,000 people in Scotland are estimated to suffer from anorexia.

Gibson said: "I am deeply concerned about sites that portray anorexia as a glamorous lifestyle choice rather than potentially fatal with the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness.

"Messages on these sites fiercely defend weight loss as an act of self-control to be admired.

"Support groups share tips on how to accelerate weight loss and disguise fasting from concerned friends and family, compete with each other at losing weight or fast together in displays of solidarity.

"Yahoo and Microsoft have taken action against pro-anorexia websites, regularly shutting them down.

"However social networking sites are failing to take action." TV star Fearne is among the horrified celebrities being used to promote pro-anorexia websites.

The 26-year-old found a picture of herself online while filming a documentary about the web and eating disorders.

She said: "To think girls would use that is horrific. I wish I could take myself off this site. I don't want to be associated with this."

Last year French politicians introduced a bill making it a criminal offence in France "to encourage another person to seek excessive thinness".

Offenders risk two years in prison or a pounds 24,000 fine.

Gibson called for similar laws in Britain, adding: "The punishment seems to be suitable."

Eating disorder charity Beat backs support for anorexia sufferers but does not want websites outlawed. …

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