Page last updated at 17:02 GMT, Friday, 18 September 2009 18:02 UK

Eating disorders: Your comments

Woman eyeing up cake

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is calling for urgent action to protect vulnerable young people from eating disorder websites.

It says the number of websites promoting eating disorders has soared with the growth of social networking. Eating disorder charities say banning the sites will not cut eating problems.

Here BBC News website readers give their views.

YOUR VIEWS

Woman being sick in toilet

I suffer from an eating disorder but sorry, it's a free world, the responsibility for someone's behaviour is theirs alone. Surely it would be better to educate people where self-esteem can come from, rather than banning things? The more you ban things, the more "exciting" it becomes and therefore actually more appealing.
Rachel, Southampton

I have anorexia, and I find it very patronising to be told that I am being influenced by the media, or trying to emulate celebrities. I have a mental illness, a chemical imbalance. I see myself and the world differently from 'normal' people. Women with eating disorders are not just silly little girls trying to lose weight - our problem is far more complex, involving depression and a need for control.
Julie, Bristol

I made a very good friend on one site and we encouraged each other to be healthy

Not all of these sites are such a bad thing. I used to have a problem with an eating disorder, which is now fortunately under control. The website that I was a member of, although posting tips on dieting and hiding the problem, also posted tips on how to stay healthy while dieting and there was a large section on recovery which was actively promoted. So now, when I have particularly bad days I can log on to the recovery section and be reminded of why I have made the choice to try and recover and become healthy and happier. I also made a very good friend on the site. We encouraged each other to be healthy while understanding how hard it was and we went into recovery together. We are now still very close and hardly ever mention our problems with food as they are, for the most part, irrelevant now.
Anon, Harrogate, UK

I am the parent of a young adult with an eating disorder and have supported her for over six years. It is probably correct that the elimination of these websites will not prevent eating disorders, which arise from a lot of complex factors individual to the sufferer. However they do provide an enabling element which can be supportive, justifying the illness or encouraging entrenchment. Many entrenched sufferers don't actually believe that permanent damage or death will "happen" to them. My own daughter was shocked and horrified a few months ago when she heard that a fellow sufferer with whom she'd spent months in hospital had died from her illness. Just as pro-suicide websites are really questionable, so are pro-eating disorder ones.
LD, Edinburgh

I think while it is a good idea to address the sites which promote "thininspiration" and group fast and weight loss competitions, it is worth remembering that not all "pro-ana" sites are like this. I personally use a site that is moderated and has specific rules against the promotion of the above for its members. For many people, using these sites is the only way they can communicate with people going through the same issues as them. They have even prevented people from committing suicide. Perhaps the government should look at encouraging eating disorder charities to start their own forums that are regulated to discourage people from going to less reputable sites?
Cheryl, London

Man eating spaghetti

Yet again an article calling for on eating disorders which gives the appearance that this is a problem solely for women and girls. Low self-esteem and body loathing is sadly rife amongst the male population too. It's a hidden and forgotten problem which leaves vulnerable young men all the more exposed to this insidious condition. This is one area where a more PC attitude is long overdue!
Chris, Leeds

I have a very long history of anorexia nervosa that developed in the 1970s, long before the internet and media images of 'perfect' airbrushed bodies. It is unlikely that pro-anorexia websites actually cause anorexia nervosa. I know of many people with eating disorders who, like me, detest pro-anorexia websites because they trivialise serious illnesses and give the impression that these are cultural trends rather than mental illnesses.
Cathy, Leeds



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