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Web promotes anorexia, bulimia

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WASHINGTON, Sep 14, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Thousands of U.S. Web sites promote anorexia and bulimia, despite widespread recognition of the health problems associated with the disorders, a report said.

A recent Google search for "pro-anorexia" yielded 30,000-plus results, scores of which actually urged visitors to embrace the ailments as legitimate lifestyles, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Anorexia is a prolonged loss of appetite; bulimia is excessive eating, often followed by self-induced vomiting.

Carol Day, director of health education services at Georgetown University and a member of the school's eating disorder treatment team, called the sites "dangerous and disturbing."

Experts said the sites can reinforce unhealthy behaviors, slow the recovery process and discourage people from seeking help.

"I think anyone who is working in the field of eating disorders realizes how unhealthy" the sites are, Day said.

Some Internet service providers shut the sites down in 2001 after the non-profit National Eating Disorders Association and other groups complained they contained content that could harm minors. Many sites disappeared briefly, only to emerge later under different names and on different Internet domains.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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