- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 19, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Demi Lovato is leaving “Sonny With a Chance,” the Disney Channel TV series that made her a star.

In an interview with People magazine, Lovato said she didn’t “think going back to ‘Sonny’ would be healthy for my recovery.” Instead, she said she wants to focus on her music career.

The 18-year-old entered a treatment facility for three months last year to deal with what were termed emotional and physical issues.

In a statement Tuesday, Disney Channel said it respects Lovato’s decision to focus on her music and “not immediately” return to acting. “Sonny” will continue airing as a spinoff titled “So Random,” with the original show’s cast, guest stars and musical acts, Disney said.

The company also offered its support while Lovato works to “improve her health and bounce back from adversity.”

In an interview airing Friday on “Good Morning America” and “20/20,” Lovato recounted developing an eating disorder as an 8-year-old who faced bullying. She later started cutting her wrists to vent her despair, she said.

“I’ve spoken openly about being bullied throughout the past few years, but one thing that I’ve never been able to feel comfortable talking about was the effects that it had on my life, afterwards,” Lovato told ABC News’ Robin Roberts.

“I literally didn’t know why they were being so mean to me,” she said. “And when I would ask them why, they would just say, `Well, you’re fat.’”

While undergoing treatment at a residential facility in Illinois, Lovato said she was sustained by thoughts of her younger sister, Madison, who plays the daughter of Eva Longoria’s character on ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.”

“A picture of my little sister … was one of the main things that kept me going,” Lovato said. “I just kept thinking, `OK, set this example for your little sister.’”

She said also wants to set an example for other young girls facing the challenges she’s battling to let them know “it doesn’t have to be this way.”

Disney said the “Sonny” spinoff has “allowed us to save over 75 full-time jobs and of course, business for the many vendors who get work from the production.”

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