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Anorexia is a complex mental disorder where severe emotional distress is expressed via disordered behavior involving food restriction. Anorexia causes extremely dangerous health-related problems such as infertility, hair loss, kidney and liver damage, irregular heartbeats and some extreme cases even leading to death (NHS, 2016). Over 1.6 million people in the UK are estimated to be directly affected by eating disorders and a staggering 1 in 250 women will experience anorexia at some point within their lives, (Beat Eating Disorders, 2016). A basic 12-week specialist in-patient course of treatment on the NHS costs about £25,000 (BBC News, 2003). In 2015 The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, announced government funding of £150m for young people with eating disorders and a commitment to bring in waiting-time for treatment, (The Independent, 2015).
Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia cost the country more than £15bn a year in 2016 yet it is still on the rise (The Independent, 2015). The research project that is going to be carried out will be focusing on eating disorders, anorexia because there is a growing percentage of eating disorders in the UK, and it is still rising each year. Most recent figures January 2014 reveal that there was a national rise of 8 percent in the number of admissions to hospital for an eating disorder in the 12 months previous to October 2013, (Anorexia and Bulimia Care, 2015). In the recent years eating disorders have been a growing topic within the media. It is costing the NHS a large sum of money, as mentioned before the £15bn figure cited earlier includes not only treatment but to also educate the population, creating awareness to try and reduce the rate of eating disorders overall, causing a strain on the NHS and a rise in pressure to combat anorexia. Social media has effectively made its way into every classroom, household, and workplace. Whether it is used by children, teenagers, or adults, everyone seems to have a presence in the social media world. With a wide range of social media platforms used among all age groups including Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter, it can be increasingly difficult to escape the pressures and influences of social media.
The latest research from Ofcom suggests that almost half of young people aged between 8 and 17 have a profile on a social networking site such as Facebook, (Teaching times, 2016). The power of social networking is such that, the number of worldwide users is expected to reach some 2.95 billion by 2020, (Statista, 2017). This can be linked with the assumption that the growth rate of eating disorders is also due to the rise in younger people using social media which includes cyberbullying, the accessibility to be able to find forums, sites to give tip, tricks, and information to help with eating disorders and anorexia such as ‘pro-ana’ websites.
The Independent, 2017 suggested that the pro-ana websites being easily accessible is increasing promotion of anorexia and other eating disorders and actions should be in place to block or monitor the use of these websites. Due to a large amount of social media users, it is showing a correlation of the increase within anorexia due to an idea that you must look and be a certain way and the idea of social media validation.
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