Interviews with girls aged between 11 and 18, suffering from eating disorders, revealed that many of them ''strongly believed that their illness was nurtured, exacerbated or sometimes even caused by the well-meaning action in schools''. The team, who interviewed 40 girls in a four-year study, said the problem of anorexia was being fuelled by an increased focus on ''healthy living'' in schools.
Prof John Evans of Loughborough University, who led the research, said, ''The tales they told were incredibly revealing about what schools were doing, in good faith, that was propelling these girls towards this damaging relationship with food and exercise. One girl told how, in class, the PE teacher pointed to a broomstick and said, 'That's the shape we are aiming for.' ''