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Argus Column for March

March 2019

Eating disorders are an incredibly personal and private battle. They are not something to be taken lightly and can end with serious medical side effects. Yet there are toxic communities online that encourage eating disorder that are only a few seconds away for anyone with access to the internet.

These communities will often encourage restricting the intake of food to the smallest amounts or fasting all together. The promotion of these so-called diets is extremely dangerous and can lead to lifelong complications for those who follow the advice.

At times these groups will even go as far as to encouraging people with eating disorders to aspire to be fed by tubes. The damage this can do to those already suffering with eating disorders is incalculable.

Last week I asked the Prime Minister what her Government is doing to protect children and vulnerable adults from online communities that glamorise, encourage and normalise eating disorders. I am pleased to say that I have a meeting with a Minister from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to discuss what we can do to close these destructive communities.

Given that today brings a start to Eating Disorders Awareness week, I would argue it is a perfect time to begin the work to end the promotions of Eating Disorders online.

While sites like Instagram are making progress by blocking content which promotes self-harm, not enough is being done to protect vulnerable people from content which promotes eating disorders. 

These posts on social media are not likely to cause someone to develop an eating disorder they certainly make it harder for individuals to recover. We must do everything we can to remove these communities from the internet and protect those struggling with eating disorders.