MSP calls on search engines to battle pro-eating disorder websites

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin
Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin has called on search engines including Google and Yahoo to prioritise websites which provide information on support for eating disorders.

It comes after MSPs marked Eating Disorders Week in the Scottish Parliament with a debate centred around the challenges still facing patients, families and the NHS in treating a range of illnesses including Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia.

Ms Martin has previously campaigned calling for more to be done to promote websites supporting someone who may be considering or at risk of suicide.

Now, Ms Martin is calling for websites, known as ‘pro-ana’ and ‘pro-mia’ to not be given prominence or be made easily accessible for those wishing to access them.

The website often encourages sufferers, providing tips on continued weight loss and glamorise the illness, as well as how to deceive relatives and health professionals in to recovery.

Former MSP Dennis Robertson, now a Councillor for Stonehaven and Lower Deeside, has campaigned for better awareness around eating disorders after his daughter Caroline passed away eight years ago.

He is backing the campaign to discourage search engines from promoting websites which encourage those with eating disorders.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said: “I am grateful for the contribution Dennis Robertson made to my speech by sharing his own experience and his relatives with an eating disorder.

“Websites which promote eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia should not be easily accessible through search engines.

“They encourage behaviour which is hugely detrimental to those suffering from this mental health condition and can endanger the lives of those experiencing it even further.

“There is still much work to be done to improve the care sufferers access and there are some incredible organisations in the North-East working to help people who need it most.

“This content is dangerous and I believe should be removed, but in the absence of that, internet search engines should be doing all they can to boost support agencies that could get people help as part of their corporate social responsibility.”

Stonehaven and Lower Deeside Councillor and eating disorders campaigner, Dennis Robertson, added: “I am extremely pleased that eating disorders are being highlighted in the Scottish Parliament and it is gratifying that action is being taken. I would like to thank Emma Harper MSP and Gillian Martin MSP for their work to keep this issue in the spotlight.

“I know that those who work with those with eating disorders and campaign for more awareness are extremely grateful for the work that is being done.”