Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Carmel on the Case: Doctor Battles Websites Promoting Anorexia
For parents, it's a never-ending job keeping their children healthy. But now, there are websites promoting anorexia. The websites actually tell kids how to become anorexic without suffering. Tonight, we go online and investigate.
(WSVN) -- An anorexic is never thin enough.
Some diet until they die.
"In the beginning, for me my eating disorder was my friend," says Jennifer Campbell. She is one of the lucky ones.
She beat bulimia and anorexia.
But hundreds of web sites promote the disorders which some dub "Ana."
These web sites display "thinspirations" with pictures, poems and commandments like "thou shall not eat without feeling guilty."
There are even instructions on how to purge and how to starve.
"These web sites are very destructive," says Dr. David Herzog from the Harvard Eating Disorder Center. He is waging war against the web sites.
He's won some battles with search engines removing sites.
But new ones are constantly popping up and some sneak into the system with undercover web addresses.
"They seem much more effective at creating them than we are at banning them.," says Dr. Herzog.
The dangerous messages from these web sites are enough to confuse a person trying to recover... or give lessons to someone who might be inclined to start eating - differently.
"They certainly could be responsible for people's deaths," says Dr. Herzog.
A bill is currently being debated in congress that would fight these dangerous messages with education, research and public service announcements.
Jennifer - now 22 - is spreading her own message as an outreach coordinator for an eating disorder association.
"I think it is vital," she says. "I think it is necessary and I think it needs to start early."
Eating disorders affect eleven million Americans - many are teenagers - both boys and girls... but victims have been reported from seven to seventy. Experts say anorexia claims more lives that any other psychiatric illness.
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