BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A groundbreaking new research study from Indiana University suggests there may be benefits to the controversial activities of "pro-ana" bloggers, the online community for people with eating disorders.
Most of the 33 bloggers from seven countries interviewed for the study, which has just been published in the journal Health Communication, said their writing activities provide a way to express themselves without judgment, which the authors believe can be crucial to their treatment.
"We don't know what are the effects of participating in this community on health," said Daphna Yeshua-Katz, a doctoral student in telecommunications in the IU College of Arts and Sciences. "But we do know that the current therapy for eating disorders is not effective."
"These communities are providing support, albeit supporting an illness that may result in someone's death," added Nicole Martins, an assistant professor of telecommunications at IU. "But until they're ready to go and seek recovery on their own terms, this might actually be a way of prolonging their life, so that they are mentally ready to tackle their recovery process.
"From the outside looking in, this looks like a really disturbing community, but I think that the fact that these women are able to find support from one another and find a place where someone understands what they're going through is a really good thing," Martins added.
They acknowledged that the study findings are different from media coverage and other research about the pro-ana community.
The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders in 2010 reported that eating disorders affect more than 11 million people in the United States alone. Anorexics lose between 15 and 60 percent of their body weight and are susceptible to osteoporosis and heart ailments that can lead to death. It is viewed as a mental illness.
Little is known about the "pro-ana
|Contact: George Vlahakis|