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What Is Pro Ana & How Is it Used By Anorexic Patients?

Learn what pro ana is from Allegra Broft, M.D. in this Howcast video about eating disorders.

Transcript

So Pro-Ana is a term that is used to describe a community in general mediated online through websites, maybe through certain types of chat rooms or social media sites that basically serve as sort of a support community for kind of perpetuating Anorexia and anorexic tendencies. So these are actually sites that glorify Anorexia nervosa. They may involve posting pictures of very thin, cachectic, emaciated looking models or other people from the media. Or even unknown people that have a very thin, emaciated, actually starved look to them. And then with comments and people posting about how wonderful these body types look.

You will also on Pro-Ana websites see things like tips on how to maintain severe dieting behavior, frankly how to maintain Anorexic behavior. Sometimes there are things like tips on how to most easily purge one's food. And, you know, the list of potentially sort of destructive things that can be on these websites, I've really heard or seen some very disturbing things.

Eating disorder professionals cringe when they hear about Pro-Ana websites. And, you know, probably many of would like to see them stricken from the internet. And yet we know that those won't go away completely. So they will exist and I guess figuring out how we can sort of dialogue with patients that are sort of interfacing with those websites is sort of the best hope in terms of figuring out, you know, what is it that is keeping an interest in that type of website so alive and, you know, what can we do to help a person pull away from those types of influences.

So just know that these websites do exist. They will probably always exist. And, you know, if you're a parent watching this, you know, you may want to be thinking about what your child or adolescent is looking at, you know, on a computer at home, you know, whether there are ways to sort of limit interactions with these types of websites. But, you know, if you're a person struggling with eating problems or are thinking that, you know, these ideas are ones that you want to strive for, just know that these sites do send a really bad message and that I'd much rather you be looking at sort of websites that advocate a different type of healthy living, you know that puts an emphases on stable eating through the day and becoming beautiful emotionally and physically without resorting to such extreme measures.

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