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Keep children off anorexia sites says TD

IT is the responsibility of parents to ensure their children do not access pro-anorexia websites, the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland has said.

Fine Gael TD for Dun Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O'Connor, who is also a former school principal, told the Herald the association has "put the onus back on to parents".

She made her comments as she campaigns to have access to such sites limited, or have them eliminated altogether.

The Dail deputy plans to work with Bodywhys, the Eating Disorder Association of Ireland, to prepare a paper she hopes will encourage more discussion on 'pro-ana' websites and their access in Ireland.

Such websites enable people with eating disorders to discuss their negative body image, extreme dieting, and provide "thinspiration" to fellow sufferers.

She said: "I know many young girls who have eating disorders and I know many families who have come to me, their parents, their mothers have come to me with worries.

"That's why I got interested in the first place. There is no law concerning this matter."

According to Bodywhys, it is estimated that one in every 150 girls at the age of fifteen and one fifteen year old boy in every 1,000 will be affected by an eating disorder. It also says there are no units at present dedicated to the treatment of child and adolescent eating disorders in Ireland.

Ms Mitchell O'Connor claims that the number of people accessing such websites is undocumented and as a result many cases go unreported and untreated leaving the true picture of the problem largely unknown.

She also claims that the "proliferation of eating disorder websites that promote anorexia and bulimia have a detrimental impact on our children who are struggling with negative body images" .