Lib Dem MP campaigns against pro-anorexia websites

February 21, 2008 5:28 PM
Affinity Healthcare

Mark visited the Eating Disorders Unit run by Affinity Healthcare at the Cheadle Royal Hospital to see for himself the awful affects of eating disorders on young people

Following a visit to the Eating Disorders Unit run by Affinity Healthcare at the Cheadle Royal Hospital in Cheshire ahead of Eating Disorders Awareness week (25th February-2nd March), Mark Hunter Liberal Democrat MP for the Cheadle constituency has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of pro-anorexia websites.

The campaign seeks to highlight the dangerous effect the pro-anorexia/ bulimia websites and groups on social networking sites have on the vulnerable young men and women who often turn to the internet for help and guidance with their illness. These sites and groups purport to be offering support and understanding to their viewers but actually offer tips on how to 'get thin' and how to hide the disorder from your friends and parents and various dangerous competitions that feed the disease instead of supporting recovery from it.

As part of the campaign Mr Hunter this week tabled an Early Day Motion (973) in the House of Commons which calls for; these sites to act responsibly towards the young people that use them, and for the Government to promote awareness of these sites and provide real support for those affected by eating disorders and their families. The EDM already has support from all sides of the House.

Today Mr Hunter called for a debate on this important issue during Business Questions in the House of Commons to discuss what more can be done to raise awareness of the dangers of eating disorders and particularly the poisonous effects of pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia websites.

Mr Hunter, speaking afterwards said, "Sadly eating disorders are becoming more and more common - with official estimates suggesting over 1 million people suffer from some kind of eating disorder . Many sufferers aren't aware that their actions are harming their body, or that in fact up to 20% of all cases of anorexia end in death . Both parents and young people find it very hard to seek the psychological help necessary for coping with these conditions and more should be done to support them.

"We need to work hard to raise awareness in parents so that they can see the signs of eating disorders in young people early and get them the help that they need quickly. We also need to make young people and their parents aware of the damaging effect that pro-anorexia websites and groups on social networking sites can have on their mental wellbeing. I have viewed some of these sites myself and the content on them is truly despicable, not only do they help to reinforce the myth amongst those suffering from eating disorders that their behaviour is normal, but they promote the false idea that eating disorders are a lifestyle choice rather than a mental illness and that these people don't need urgent help.

"I am pleased to be supporting Affinity Healthcare and Cheadle Royal Hospital in their excellent work in this area. Having visited the facility I have seen the damage that eating disorders can do to young people and I hope that this campaign is successful in raising awareness of this."

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