Theis F, Wolf M, Fiedler P, Backenstrass M, Kordy H
Psychother Psychosom Med Psychol 2012 Feb;62(2):58-65
Pro-eating disorders (ED) websites are assumed to have a negative impact on internet users because these sites promote ED as a lifestyle, and present an extreme thin ideal as well as extreme weight loss measures. We tested the impact of reading pro-ED contents in a sample of 421 women. The participants were randomly assigned to one of 3 conditions in which they were exposed to either a pro-ED blog, a self-help blog, or a neutral control blog. Post-exposure negative affect was higher in participants of the pro-ED and the self-help conditions compared to the neutral blog condition. Participants with an elevated risk for developing an ED had a lower appearance self esteem after exposure to the pro-ED, or the self-help blog. According to the study, a subgroup of high risk individuals might be affected by ED-related internet content. The implications of this study are discussed in the context of the ongoing controversy around pro-ED websites.