'Pro-Ana' Web Sites Glorify Eating Disorders

Another strategy ANAD uses is to report that the various sites contain pornographic images of half-clothed and emaciated young girls, many of whom are underage. While servers such as Yahoo, Lycos and MySpace have been particularly responsive to removing pro-ana and pro-mia Web sites, according to Hayashi, some sites have refused to cooperate with ANAD's requests, citing First Amendment arguments.

Advocacy sites like ANAD offer tips for parents to recognize the early-warning signs of eating disorders. Among them: a sudden interest in calorie counting, wearing baggy clothing, excessive caffeine consumption, fanatical exercise and a general obsession with weight. These groups urge parents to monitor their children's Internet activity, and keep a watchful eye out for pro-ana an pro-mia sites.

As Hayashi say, parents' vigilance could be a matter of life and death. "The danger of these sites is the sense of community and support they provide. A community some know will mourn them when, not if, they die."

For more information on eating disorders, visit the following Web sites:

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) -- www.anad.org

National Eating Disorders Association -- www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

Academy for Eating Disorders -- www.aedweb.org

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