Ana and the Internet: a review of pro-anorexia websites

Int J Eat Disord. 2006 Sep;39(6):443-7. doi: 10.1002/eat.20305.


Objective: The purpose of this article is to describe the content of pro-anorexia websites, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Method: An Internet search protocol was developed to identify pro-anorexia websites. A grounded theory approach was used to generate themes from Internet-based information. Basic descriptive analysis was employed to report on key website characteristics.

Results: Twenty pro-anorexia websites met inclusion criteria. Saturation of themes was achieved after review of 12 websites. Key website characteristics included purpose of website (75%), information about webmaster (67%), website disclaimers (58%), and information on "tips and tricks" (67%). Religious metaphors, lifestyle descriptions, and "thinspiration" (inspirational photo galleries and quotes that aim to serve as motivators for weight loss) were frequently present. A total of 10 themes were generated. The most prevalent themes included control, success, and perfection.

Conclusion: Health-care providers and caregivers should be aware of pro-anorexia websites and their content, as these websites contain information that promote and support anorexia nervosa.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia Nervosa* / psychology
  • Attitude to Health
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Internet*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Weight Loss