night editor: wake up!!

This may well be the worst reporting, worst headline, worst understanding of the issue at hand I've seen in years. It's like a 3D scan of fallacies!

3D scanning ‘is best way to tackle anorexia’

I haven't a clue on the actual research, but I will assume that the reporter has completely lost the plot and may need to have his or her brain scanned for signs of life.

Body dysmorphia is not anorexia. Anorexia is not a failure to see one's body accurately. Anorexia isn't a diet in search of different appearance. Showing someone their body in all dimensions isn't a treatment (though it might be a tool in treatment and why do those silly chalk outlines when you can spend $£€$ on fancy equipment.

And honestly, the image of tackling someone with anorexia...


  1. Sigh - what a waste of research money (no doubt paid for by some 3d scanner manufacturer). Ashamed to be British this morning.....

  2. despite the inept reporting I can't see that 3D scans would have the super effect they are suggesting anyway. For a start, when I was unwell, I can't imagine I would have let anyone scan me, and secondly I distinctly remember looking at a photo of myself taken the same day thinking 'I wish I looked like that'. It was my photo, it was the same day and I still didn't see/believe it.

  3. Thanks for this Laura; I absolutely agree. Many people with AN do have symptoms of body dysmorphia; however I am inclined to think that these symptoms relate to unusual cognition (e.g. weak central coherence) and the general loss of self that develops as a consequence of starvation. And people can have body dysmorphia in the absence of an ED...

    Trying to inform a person with AN how emaciated they look is somewhat futile. When I had low weight AN I could see my emaciation in the mirror, but somehow didn't believe that I really looked like that. But even so, that cognitive distortion wasn't the cause of my AN. It was merely another (of many symptoms). Body gazing or focusing on my body image would have done nothing to aid my recovery. Good nutrition, weight gain and learning to live in a larger, heavier body that felt things much more acutely DID help, however....

  4. Laura, you are right to direct your ire at the editor. A look at the abstract of the study (available at gives a different flavor than the "Scotsman" article.

    According to the abstract, the study involved only 22 patients - more of whom had bulimia than anorexia.

    They found that patients AND controls all perceived themselves to be bigger than their true shapes (except in the chest), and all wished to be smaller.
    (to this I could say "well, duh, we don't need a study to tell us that" .... but sometimes we do need studies, to confirm perceptions, debunk myths and to quantify evidence.)

    The abstract concludes with the sentence "These novel data could inform the design of clinical trials in adjunctive treatments for eating disorders.". Which, to me, sounds like they think that this is interesting, and maybe, sorta, it might be useful to try putting this in the mix, maybe, as a tria, in association with other ed treatment.

    Going from this to a headline of "3D scanning is the best way to tackle anorexia" and an opening sentence that says 3D scanning "should be used" in ed treatment is worse than misleading.

    No wonder that scientists attribute media oversimplification to the problem of public ignorance about science.

    1. just re-read my post - that last sentence is backwards; it should say that they attribute the problem to media oversimplification.....


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