Selfie Craze Is Fueling Eating Disorders, Doctor Claims

The craze over skinny selfies is fuelling dangerous eating disorders, according to one leading expert at the Priory group. According to Dr. Alex Yellowlees, medical director and consultant psychiatrist at the Priory hospital group, more young women suffering from eating disorders are taking pictures to share with their friends than ever before. The competitive dieting “diaries” created by selfies are psychologically damaging and can encourage anorexia and bulimia.

“Some people will take repeated pictures of themselves at various stages of their illness, and send them to others,” Yellowlees said. “They want to keep a record of their illness and see for themselves, as it were, the progress they think they are making toward anorexia.”

Yellowlees said that he’s only become aware of the trend in the last few years and that the participants are usually young women in their teens or twenties who are “really into their phones.”

Yellowlees also voiced concern over smartphone apps that allow users to track their calories because they allow those with eating disorders to become obsessed with counting numbers. He added that “thinspiration” websites are equally as harmful since they convey potentially dangerous messages.

Yellowlees chose to speak out about the increase in “thinspiration” selfies ahead of Eating Disorders Awareness Week, adding that despite crackdowns, many “pro-anorexia” and “pro-bulimia” still exist.

“Eating disorders are like a form of ‘psychological malignancy’ and should be taken very seriously by society,” Yellowlees concluded. “This includes anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.”

The Priory Group is the leading provider of behavioral health in the UK supporting the needs of over 30,000 people each year. "Over the last 30-40 years, the prevalence of eating disorders has increased to become a widespread problem across the UK and worldwide," stated on the Priory website. Priory's highly trained treatment team recognize that eating disorders are complex conditions that are unique to each individual.

Sources: Telegraph, The Priory Group
Photo: Pexels

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