Skip to Content

Secret Society Connecting Through the Internet Feeds Eating Disorders


The University of Cincinnati communication researchers are reporting on a new type of social support group as social networks grow on the Web. This emerging Online Negative Enabling Support Group (ONESG) surrounding the pro-anorexia movement is reported in the current issue of the journal, New Media & Society.

A Choice Not an Illness

The members choose to see anorexia as a choice not an illness. It is believed based on collected information that the majority of member are Caucasian females between the ages of thirteen and twenty-six. These members are not only proud of being anorexic but encourage and support other members. "By gaining deeper insight, we can potentially increase our efforts to help those whose online interactions revolve around 'communicating thin,'" the authors writes. They hope to be able to help some of the members who were misguided and ended up in this secret society.

Statement from the Researchers

"They cling relentlessly to the idea that achieving a certain level of thinness will somehow remedy their feelings of worthlessness and undesirability; however, the means by which they attain this sense of value and belonging is stigmatized and deemed undesirable."


By gaining better insight into the secret society of anorexia researchers hope to be able to put an end to their websites and educate these females about eating disorders.