Facebook linked to poor body image

Posted by Kate Taylor

Facebook is making people even more unhappy about their bodies and may be helping fuel a rise in eating disorders, a new study claims.

The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt surveyed 600 Facebook users aged between 16 and 40, and found that over half said that seeing photos of themselves and others on Facebook makes them more conscious of their body and weight.

"Facebook is making it easier for people to spend more time and energy criticizing their own bodies and wishing they looked like someone else, says center director Dr Harry Brandt.

"In this age of modern technology and constant access to smartphones
and the internet, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to remove themselves from images and other triggers that promote negative body image, low self-esteem and may ultimately contribute to
eating disorders."

In the survey, 51 percent of respondents said that seeing photos of themselves makes them more conscious about their body and weight, with the same number agreeing that they often find themselves comparing their life to that of their friends when they read status updates and see pictures posted.

Just under a third said that they feel sad when comparing Facebook photos of themselves to their friends, and 37 percent feel they need to change specific parts of their body.

meanwehile, says the center, people are increasingly showing dangerous eating bahavior. Seventeen percent of the survey respondents said they've engaged in binge eating, with seven percent saying they've purged.

One in eight said they have or have had an eating disorder, while another eight percent think they may do.

"As people spend more time thinking about what’s wrong with their bodies, less time is spent on the positive realm and engaging in life in meaningful and fulfilling ways," says Dr Steven Crawford, the Center for Eating Disorders’ associate director.

"When people become more concerned with the image they project online and less concerned with holistic markers of health in real life, their body image may suffer and they may even turn, or return, to harmful fad diets or dangerous weight-control behaviors."

The results bear out Israeli research last year that showed that the more time girls spend on Facebook, the likelier they are to suffer from eating disorders.