STANFORD STUDY ON PROANOREXIA WEBSITES SHOWS THEY DO NO HARM
In contrast to expectations, there was no significant difference between groups in health outcomes, including percentage ideal body weight, incidence of low bone mineral density, number of hospitalizations, or number of missed menses."
This sentence is taken verbatim from the findings of the "Stanford Study" that is universally regarded as the authority for closing down ProAnorexia websites (emphasis added). Here is the actual title and header information for the study itself:
Surfing for Thinness: A Pilot Study of Pro–Eating Disorder Web Site Usage in Adolescents With Eating Disorders
Jenny L. Wilson, BAa, Rebecka Peebles, MDa, Kristina K. Hardy, PhDb and Iris F. Litt, MDa,c
a Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, </b>Stanford University School of Medicine</b>, Mountain View, California
b Department of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
c Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, Stanford, California
The full text of the study can be found here: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/c
It is widely (and incorrectly) stated that this Stanford Study showed ProAnorexia websites to be dangerous to the health of people who visited them. This belief has caused the removal and destruction of hundreds or thousands of websites by many of the very largest online presences. It is nothing more than a case of people blindly assuming things to be true and acting on those assumptions without verifying the information.
In fact, the findings of the study were just the opposite: the study found NO SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES IN HEALTH OUTCOMES. They studied groups of people with anorexia nervosa or bulimia. They fell into categories based on whether they visited Pro-Ed sites, whether they visited Pro-Recovery sites, whether they visited both, or never visited any.
NO DIFFERENCES. Yet the media, and probably most of you reading this article, fell for the incorrect reporting of the contents, and assumed that ProAnorexia sites were indeed dangerous. THIS STUDY SHOWS THEY ARE NOT DANGEROUS.
Does this study show people who visit Pro-Ed sites have been sick longer? Yes. Here is the wording:
Compared with nonusers, users of pro-ED Web sites had been ill significantly longer (2 = 7.2, P < .05), although there was no difference between groups with regard to length of time in treatment (2 = 1.1; P = not significant; Table 4) or age.
Note that they are saying had been ill significantly longer, not that they stayed ill longer, or that Pro-Ed sites caused them to be sick longer. In fact, it's most likely that they are saying the longer someone has an ED, the more likely they are to seek out ProAnorexia sites.
So any report saying this study shows visiting ProAnorexia sites to extend the period of the illness is a total misrepresentation of what was actually reported.
In terms of psychosocial and behavioral outcomes, there were no significant differences between pro-ED site users and nonusers with regard to the impact that the ED had on patients’ reported time spent in extracurricular activities or with friends.
This is yet one more area where ProAnorexia sites CAUSE NO HARM.
It's time to re-evaluate personal opinions now that the TRUTH of this study is evident. If this study contained proof enough to make you want to shut down ProAnorexia sites when you thought it condemned them, then it should be enough to make you feel no need to persecute them now that you know the study SHOWS THEY DO NO HARM.
Will you be as vocal in your request to companies to reinstate their ProAnorexia sites? Will you finally admit that certain ProAnorexia sites that are oriented towards true support and encourage healthy eating practices are not harmful, and in fact MAY BE HELPING in some, if not many of their members?