Amazon widely condemned for selling books that promote anorexia as a 'healthy lifestyle'
Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Tory MP Rachel Maclean revealed that the tech giant is currently selling a number of books which promote anorexia as a “healthy lifestyle” before calling on Health Secretary Matt Hancock to take action.
“The shadow secretary of state has referred to the proliferation of pro-anorexia content online,” Maclean said.
“But, is the secretary of state aware that tech giant Amazon is selling books under the category of ‘pro-ana’, which is purported to show anorexia as a healthy lifestyle?
“So, does he share my revulsion that these books are available online? Will he call on Amazon to take this content down immediately?”
Hancock responded by vowing to challenge the company over the “alarming” revelations.
“I’ll absolutely look at the point my Honourable Friend raises which seems alarming and distressing to hear about,” Hancock said.
“Of course, Amazon sells physical goods in the large part and surely has a duty of care to those who are buying those physical goods in the same way that a shop has a responsibility for what it sells.”
A search on the retailer’s website for “pro-anorexia” delivers 38 results for books with titles such as All Things Thin and Beautiful and Beauty Is Slim and Lean: Living Pro-Ana the Healthy Way.
One of the books lists more than 100 “pro-ana” – shorthand for anorexia – tips for extreme weight loss, The Times reports.
It also has instructions for a “pro-ana boot camp” that claims to help readers shed 50lb in four months by restricting their diet to a quarter of the recommended calorie intake for women.
As a result of the revelation, a petition has been launched calling for the immediate removal of pro-anorexia books from Amazon. It has received more than 13,000 signatures so far.
“Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. It is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15-24 years old,” the petition reads.
“Yet why is Amazon allowing the sales of books that encourages readers to starve themselves?
I was absolutely appalled when I discovered Amazon is selling pro-anorexia books. Vulnerable young people are being put at risk. There must be an immediate ban on these books. I hope Amazon is listening & will take action. There is simply no excuse for it. pic.twitter.com/ncMv10HiTH— Rachel Maclean MP (@redditchrachel)May 1, 2019
“As an eating disorder sufferer, I know first-hand how awful this illness is. I have lost a friend to anorexia too so know all too well how true the statistics are. These books must be removed before more lives are taken.”
When contacted by The Independent, Amazon declined to comment.
According to the NHS, anorexia is an eating disorder and serious mental health condition whereby people try to keep their weight as low as possible by not eating enough food or exercising too much, or both.
They often have a distorted image of their bodies, thinking they are fat even when they are underweight.
Symptoms of anorexia include having an unusually low body mass index (BMI), missing meals or eating very little, taking medication to reduce your hunger and believing you are fat when you are a healthy weight or underweight.
For more information or advice regarding eating disorders like anorexia you can also talk in confidence to an adviser from eating disorders charity Beat by calling its adult helpline on 0808 801 0677 or youth helpline on 0808 801 0711.