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Is selfie culture contributing to the rise in eating disorders

Leading health experts have warned that the current ‘selfie culture’ taking the world by storm could be responsible for an increase in the number of people suffering with eating disorders.

Whilst many use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to post healthy progress shots of their fitness journey, sadly a worrying trend for online anorexia diaries has also emerged. These shocking photographs chart people’s descent into starvation and are highly likely to expose those already susceptible to eating disorders to a new level of psychological pressure.

Some of the biggest providers of treatment for eating disorders noted a 15% increase in the number of adult patients admitted in the last year alone. The NHS’s figures also witnessed an 8% increase. Although young people still make up the largest proportion of patients, the number of middle aged patients with eating disorders almost doubled in that year.

The Priory Glasgow Medical Director, Dr Yellowlees explained how the trend for selfies appears to be one of the biggest contributing factors towards this increase:

A record of illness

“Some people will take repeated pictures of themselves at various stages of their illness and send them to others. They want to keep a record of their illness and see for themselves the progress they think they are making towards anorexia. They will also transmit the images to other sufferers on occasions.”

Dr Yellowlees also expressed concern that the many smartphone apps that allow users to count their daily calorie intake could also seriously escalate the suffering of those with eating disorders as they become obsessed with counting numbers.

If you are worried that you or someone you know may be suffering with an eating disorder, please visit our Eating Disorder Treatment page for more information about the signs, symptoms and treatments available.

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