Eating disorders are often misunderstood and underestimated in the community, resulting in inaccurate reporting, stereotyping, and the use of language with a potentially harmful impact.
In collaboration with Mindframe, Butterfly, and Australian media professionals, NEDC has developed and updated the Mindframe Guide to the Reporting and Portrayal of Eating Disorders, an evidence-based resource which provides practical advice for journalists, editors, and other media professionals to support best-practice reporting and portrayal of eating disorders. The guidelines aim to increase responsible, accurate, and sensitive representations of eating disorders in the media and to reduce stigma.
Mindframe Guide to the Reporting and Portrayal of Eating Disorders
The Mindframe Guide to the Reporting and Portrayal of Eating Disorders provides tips for reporting, up-to-date facts about eating disorders, evidence on the link between media and eating disorders, and guidance on how to appropriately present information about eating disorders on media platforms.
Some of the areas addressed include:
- Accurate portrayal of eating disorders as serious mental illnesses
- Appropriate language and use of images
- Avoiding detail of specific behaviours or measurements
- Inclusion of up-to-date facts and data
Although this resource is targeted at media professionals, key messages can help guide teachers, government representatives, non-government organisations and those in the education, health, sport, fitness, and other relevant sectors to implement appropriate communication campaigns and programs using evidence-based guidelines.
Access the Mindframe Guide to the Reporting and Portrayal of Eating Disorders here.
The role of media
The media in Australia plays an important role in communicating about eating disorders and promoting positive body image. However, communication from the media is not consistent and information may vary significantly.
A common misconception is that media causes eating disorders. This is not true and to suggest it trivialises the complexity of how an eating disorder develops. However, being exposed to the beauty and appearance ideals presented in the media can increase body dissatisfaction, encourage weight-loss practices and can increase the internalisation of the thin ideal, all of which are known modifiable risk factors of eating disorders.
Some media channels can promote supportive and helpful advice for raising awareness of eating disorders, while others may reinforce harmful ideas of body image or ‘at risk’ behaviours in vulnerable audiences.
Journalists and editors can access the Mindframe Guide to the Reporting and Portrayal of Eating Disorders to help guide best-practice reporting and portrayal of eating disorders.
How do I play a role?
The media has an important role to play in influencing social attitudes towards and perceptions of eating disorders and mental illness. Similarly, other professional groups such as sport and fitness professionals also play a significant role.
Everyone can play a role in preventing the development of eating disorders and supporting treatment and recovery by being informed and helping to raise awareness by using suitable language and sharing appropriate messages with your specific audiences. Reducing weight and shape stigma through appropriate messaging and communication can help to prevent the onset of disordered eating and eating disorders in the community.
Mindframe is a national program supporting safe media reporting, portrayal and communication about suicide, mental ill-health and alcohol and other drugs. Mindframe is managed by Everymind and is funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Health under the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program.
It is informed by evidence and expert advisors, and provides national leadership and support on how to apply best practice principles for safe communication and media coverage about suicide, mental ill-health, alcohol and other drugs to media students, news media and public relations organisations, media sources and creators of fictional portrayals.
To help encourage help-seeking behaviour, Mindframe developed national guidelines for the discussion, reporting and publication of content, which references mental health or mental ill-health.
For more information, visit the Mindframe website.
Preventing Eating Disorders
Click on the following links to find out more about eating disorders and:
Effective communication serves to influence social norms, beliefs and behaviours, and is key to bringing about change.
Do No Harm
Care must be taken in promoting information about eating disorders in order to ensure positive outcomes, rather than accidental harm. Research indicates that without due caution, highlighting the symptoms or effects of eating disorders may increase the prevalence of the disorder.