Advert watchdogs to crack down on diet apps targeting vulnerable youngsters

ADVERT watchdogs will crack down on the alarming practice of targeting youngsters talking online about eating disorders.

They are worried that those sharing problems in forums are picked up by algorithms and sent info on diet apps.

The revelation comes amid a 32 per cent surge during the pandemic in hospital admissions for eating disorders.

And it follows the death of former Big Brother star Nikki Grahame, 38, from anorexia earlier this month.

The Advertising Standards Authority has vowed to make the problem a priority.

Beauty filters can alter appearances in digital pics putting added pressure on young girls to look perfect.

Actress Gemma Oaten, a patron of eating disorder charity SEED, is campaigning for rules on filters and apps to be overhauled.

She said: “This is something we find really alarming.”

The ASA said in February filters should not be applied to exaggerate a product’s effects.

And a spokesman last night added: “We will shortly be launching a call for evidence on body image and ads from the public.”

Signs and symptoms of anorexia

  • if you're under 18, your weight and height being lower than expected for your age
  • if you're an adult, having an unusually low body mass index
  • missing meals, eating very little or avoiding eating any foods you see as fattening
  • believing you are fat when you are a healthy weight or underweight
  • taking medication to reduce your hunger (appetite suppressants)
  • your periods stopping (in women who have not reached menopause) or not starting (in younger women and girls)
  • physical problems, such as feeling dizzy, dry skin and hair loss

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