App hosts dozens of group chats where youngsters are given strict weight-loss advice

Thousands of young people with eating disorders are being preyed on by “anorexia coaches” operating on an anonymous messaging app, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

Kik, a popular app among children and teenagers that has previously come under fire over safeguarding issues, hosts dozen of pro-anorexia group chats that are open to the public.

Related: Hospital admissions for eating disorders surge to highest in eight years

Related: Samuel Pollen: 'Having an eating disorder is like having a bad cop inside your head'

In the UK, Beat can be contacted on 0808 8010677 or emailed at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (over-18s), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (students) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (under-18s). In the US, the National Eating Disorders Association helpline number is 1800 9312237. In Australia, the Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders helpline number is 1800 334673.

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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26 March 2019