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Experts concerned TikTok glorifies eating disorders

Social media platforms such as TikTok are being criticised for “romanticising and glorifying” eating disorders.

Speaking to The Sun newspaper, Kerrie Jones, clinical director and founder of eating disorder clinic Orri has said there are a lot of impressionable young people using these forums.

She said: “Forty one per cent of TikTok’s 800 million users are between the age of 16 and 24. This is important because it is also the typical age bracket where people are vulnerable to developing eating disorders and the lack of content regulation and the use of algorithms that deliver content automatically means that people are at risk of consuming harmful content without even actively looking for it.

“The rise of our influencer generation means that there’s a risk of romanticising and even glorifying eating disorders with content that focuses on food, eating and exercise habits.”

Call centre working India Edmonds agrees that this pattern of online behaviour can be extremely damaging to health.

The 22-year-old from Brighton told the national newspaper she developed an eating disorder at the age of 14 and relied on social media to ‘thinspiration’ photos.

Eventually her weight dropped to just six stone and she was admitted to hopsital.

She developed an eating disorder when she was 14, and at the height of it was using social media to find ‘thinspiration’ photos, weighed just six stone, was admitted to hospital and almost died.

India said: “For me, the illness hasn’t completely gone and I still get thoughts about my weight and what I eat, but with treatment I can cope with it now and have learned to live with it and it doesn’t control my life anymore.

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“Social media can have such a negative impact on people with eating disorders, and with TikTok you don’t need to even look for it – it just comes up on your feed, which could easily be triggering. You can’t control it.

“It’s hard when you constantly see videos of people who seem so perfect – it’s easy to compare yourself to them. Because videos can just pop up on your feed, it can be difficult to ignore.”

Although TikTok has attempted to tackle the issue, banning hashtags such as ‘anorexia’ and ‘bulimia’, users are findings ways to get round this by misspelling the words.

Dr Aragona Giuseppe said: “The most damaging [content] is of course is the pro-ana content but also even a person posting their diet plan or their ‘what I eat in a day’ can have hugely damaging effects on a young person, because they start to believe that they should also be limiting their intake of food also.

“The obsession with weight and losing weight has always been apparent, however, it is becoming heightened by TikTok because it appears so normal as well as people being able to access this type of content 24/7.”

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