The CBC posted an article about a niche but increasingly popular spate of sites that are pro-anorexia or pro-bulimia. The topic aside, I was rather amused to read the initial headline (which appears to have been since changed), and subsequent references throughout the article to “pro-eating disorders.”
Well, I don’t know about you, but I think I suffer from a pro-eating disorder, because I love to cook and to eat. The way that particular phrase is put, the wording makes the phrase sound like the disorder relates to those people who are ‘for’ (“pro”) eating. I’m all for eating. Give me bacon, or give me death (albeit, bacon may be death of me)! Today’s dinner was slow-roasted top sirloin with a marrow-tarragon reduction (thank you Heston Blumenthal!). Definitely on the pro-eating team, not the anti-eating team.
Clearly, what CBC really wanted to say was there is large amount of sites that are supportive of eating disorders.
By using “pro-” as preposition, and attaching “pro-” to the first word, “eating,” of the two word phrase, “eating disorders,” the author inadvertently makes “pro-eating” modify the “disorder,” rather than having the “pro” modify “eating disorder.” I don’t think that there is a clean solution to this unwitting endorsement of eating, save to specify the disorder: “pro-anorexia” or “pro-bulimia.”
To drive the point home, if you Google “pro-eating,” the first site that comes up promotes the World Championships of Competitive Eating. So CBC, I’m all for good (food) grammar so maybe this is not the best use of a preposition.