Does Facebook Lead to Eating Disorders?

We all put our best foot forward on social media platforms. We go through great lengths to depict the most curated versions of our lives – from flattering display pictures to gushing about how well celebrated our birthdays are.

We all put our best foot forward on social media platforms. We go through great lengths to depict the most curated versions of our lives – from flattering display pictures to gushing about how well celebrated our birthdays are. 

Researchers are beginning to fully comprehend the toxic effects of regular social media use in negatively impacting self-esteem.

A recent study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, equates habitual Facebook use with eating disorders in college-going women. This research serves as an addendum to last year’s American University study in that it finds similar results.

While many of you must have already realized, obsessively logging onto Facebook to hate-click through the pictures of people you remain “Friends” with, isn’t exactly healthy.

The study by International Journal of Eating Disorders, requested 960 female college students to take a test via which researchers assessed whether the females had eating disorders. Additionally, the girls were asked the frequency of their Facebook logins. The researchers found a relatively small but affirmative association between women who spent more than 20 minutes on Facebook a day and poor eating habit.

In the latter fraction of the study, a random selection of participants was taken and divided into two groups. The first group was asked to browse Facebook as they normally would, while the other group was asked to use Wikipedia to study the ocelot. Subsequently, participants were asked to take another survey of their eating and Facebook habits.

Those who had studied the ocelot were less interested in being paid ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ on their photos and status updates, in addition to being less obsessed with their weight. This was a sharp contrast to those who had logged onto Facebook, reporting increased angst about both Facebook presence and weight.

The ultimate conclusion is that Facebook is not likely to affect self-esteem any more than fashion other outlets which promote an unrealistic body image. Researchers did point out that “these effects could be discerned after only 20 minutes of typical Facebook use in a laboratory setting raises concerns about how the use of the site throughout the day may impact eating disorder risk.

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