A content analytic comparison of fitspiration and thinspiration websites

Int J Eat Disord. 2016 Jan;49(1):98-101. doi: 10.1002/eat.22403. Epub 2015 Mar 16.


Objective: "Pro-ana" or Thinspiration websites are internet sites that support weight loss and eating disorders. Fitspiration websites are a newer type of site that supposedly advocates a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Method: The first 10 images from a sample of 50 Fitspiration and 50 Thinspiration websites, chosen using a standard internet search protocol, were rated on a variety of weight, eating, and appearance characteristics. χ(2) analyses were conducted to compare website content.

Results: Thinspiration sites featured more content related to losing weight or fat, praising thinness, showng a thin pose, and providing food guilt messages than Fitspiration sites. However, sites did not differ on guilt-inducing messages regarding weight or the body, fat/weight stigmatization, the presence of objectifying phrases, and dieting/restraint messages. Overall, 88% of Thinspiration sites and 80% of Fitspiration sites contained one or more of the coded variables.

Discussion: Prior research has examined Thinspiration websites and noted the potentially hazardous messages contained on these sites. This content analysis indicates that sites supposedly devoted to healthy pursuits (fitness) may also contain thematically similar content.

Keywords: eating disturbance; fitspiration; internet sites; media influences; thinspiration.

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Life Style
  • Thinness / psychology*