Viewership of Pro-Eating Disorder Websites: Association with Body Image and Eating Disturbances

Document Type


Publication Date



pro‐eating disorder websites, pro‐ana websites, body image, eating, disturbance

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Objective: To evaluate the association between pro‐eating disorder website viewership and concurrent levels of body dissatisfaction and eating disturbance.

Method: A sample of 1575 women were surveyed for viewership of a variety of websites, including those promoting disordered eating (pro‐eating disorder) and those providing information about eating disorders (professional).

Results: Individuals who frequented pro‐eating disorder sites had higher levels of body dissatisfaction and eating disturbance than a control group. The group who frequented only professional information websites, but not pro‐eating disorder websites, differed from controls on only one of the four measures of disturbance. The pro‐eating disorder group did not differ from the professional group on any measure.

Conclusion: The findings offer moderate evidence indicating that viewers of pro‐eating disorder sites have higher levels of disturbance than a control sample of nonviewers, but limited evidence that those who view pro‐eating disorder sites differ from individuals who view professional sites offering information regarding eating disorders. The findings are discussed in light of the difficulty determining causality in this area of inquiry and a cautionary note regarding the potential iatrogenic effects of this type of research is offered.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

International Journal of Eating Disorders, v. 41, issue 1, p. 92-95