Tens of thousands of people across Australia start their day by scrolling through their social media feeds. This action is leading to serious consequences for those who are young and impressionable people.

Hooked on the latest fads and fixated with emulating the lives of their favourite social media stars, kids (and adults too!) are taking the healthy eating and clean living trend to dangerous, obsessive extremes – falling victim to eating disorders like anorexia.

60 Minutes, reporter Allison Langdon explored the dangerous new world of digital dieting.

Teenager, Ashlee Thomas, 17, shares how her obsession with social media and healthy eating almost killed her.

What started as a decision to eat healthier foods and get fit, as inspired by her social media feed, quickly took a dangerous turn.

Ashlee’s new interest in green juices and seven-minute work-outs became an all-consuming eating disorder, a sickness that led her to stop eating all together.

Diagnosed with anorexia and weighing less than 40 kilograms at the age of 14, Ashlee’s devoted parents Kendall and Andrew Thomas took matters into their own hands.

Terrified of losing their teenage daughter and helpless to the disease that was killing her in front of their eyes, they shared with 60 Minutes confronting vision of them force-feeding Ashlee when she was starving herself.

An experience they describe as “torture” and akin to “child abuse” – they say was a necessary and desperate attempt to save their daughter’s life before it was too late.

“(It was) outbursts that you just see in the movies,” Mr Thomas tells Langdon.

The family are sharing their story with 60 Minutes in a bid to warn other parents about the dangers of social media and eating disorders.

“Do you think this would have happened anyway with or without social media?” asked Allison.

“No,” they firmly respond.

Allison questions if influencers like ‘Australia’s wellness queen’, Loni Jane Anthony are to blame.

With more than 400,000 Instagram followers, she is one of the most recognisable “plant-based organic life” influencers in the world.

Ms Anthony – who promotes a vegan, plant-based diet, once made headlines for consuming up to 20 bananas a day while six months pregnant.

She now makes a living by running her highly popular social media accounts as a business platform, posting daily pictures of what many experts call an “extreme” diet and exercise routine.

This funds her clean eating lifestyle in Queensland.

Allison questions Ms Anthony on whether influencer Instagram accounts are in fact putting followers at risk, promoting a lifestyle that is not only unattainable for many, but going against the advice of practicing doctors.

Her simple response  “You have a choice to unfollow”

Watch below

Fans have recently flooded Loni Jane’s Instagram page with both comments of support and disgust.

If you or someone you know need support please contact Butterfly Foundation https://thebutterflyfoundation.org.au/ or call 1800 33 4673

Police & Ambulance 000
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Helpline 1800 551 800

Do social media influencers need to be more responsible with what they promote?

Read more – Doctors Concerned ‘Mummy Bloggers’ are Putting Vulnerable Women at Risk

Share your comments below

  • It isn’t helpful when a 11 y.o. guest who calls 3 fork fulls of pasta a meal and is underweight tells another 12 y.o. that she will get very fat if she eats more than her. The 2nd 12 y.o. is a lot taller than the first girl whose Mum is a professional pole dancer(short and grossly underweight)

    Reply

  • People are always looking at fad diets and quick fixes. Just eat well and move more. It is honestly that easy. If you are looking for a specific thing to follow, eat whole foods. Cut out preservatives and cook everything from scratch. That is the best thing you can do. 14 year olds shouldn’t even be on social media.

    Reply

  • The 60 mins episode was really interesting and worth watching if you can download it.

    Reply

  • It’s really sad that so many people are so influenced by what’s on social media. What happened to face to face time with friends and family?!

    Reply

  • I do hate what social media has done to this country and to the world in general.

    Reply

  • Whilst we are aware that the images on social media are not necessarily accurate. Stories are not accurate and it’s quite fake just to get likes and notoriety, but young girls take it as gospel and that’s where it is dangerous.

    Reply

  • The 60 minutes show was very biased. You cannot blame influencers for someones sickness, the girl stopped eating for godsake.
    I applaud Loni Jane for promoting wellness, her diet is not extreme, there are thousands of people living this way. Her kids look super healthy too.
    Myself I do not do juices or smoothies, I believe in eating wholefoods plant-based diet. You need the fiber and wholefood carbs to function properly.

    Reply

  • I don’t think social media is trying to promote being skin and bone to women. Being healthy and toned for your self yes.
    After putting on a few kgs after 3 kids, yes I use social media to get ideas on healthy food and exercise but I’m not going to starve myself or deliberately bring up my food. That I think is the person’s choice and those who do that need to see a counselor.

    Reply

  • The pressures from social media and peers are a factor but I don’t think it’s made an increase in the disorder.

    I’m on healthy mummy and it teaches you portion sizes, while still Being able to eat treats. They are exercises that are gentle to start off with and you make your way to the next level, not to mention the amazing supportive community of it all

    Reply

  • I don’t think there’s an increase of these disorders because of social media. In the years before social media, ir has been going around just as much.

    Reply

  • It’s no worse then a lot of whats been published in magazines over the years but I think it’s more the fact that social media is such a big thing now days and everyone is connected 24/7.

    Reply

  • Social media has indeed added another layer to growing up and to life for children and adults.

    Reply

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