Does Facebook make you fat?

September 11, 2012

Time spent on social networking sites comes at the expense of other activities – including physical activity, new research by the University of Ulster has revealed. 

 That is one of the findings of a study presented at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society's Division of in Liverpool at the weekend.

Around 350 students at the University of Ulster completed an –measuring social networking activity and levels of physical activity.

The research was carried out by Masters degree student Emer O'Leary, under the supervision of psychologists, Dr Wendy Cousins and Dr Tadhg Macintyre at the University of Ulster.

The results showed that the vast majority of students used like Facebook and Twitter spend an average of one hour a day online. In the physical activity questionnaire, just over half the students were classified as; 'moderately active' and a third were 'high activity', with a minority (12.7 per cent) falling into the 'low physical activity' group. A quarter of the respondents said they took part in team sports.

When the results were analysed, researchers found that the amount of time spent on social network websites was negatively correlated with the respondents' level of physical activity in the previous week. Facebook fans were also less likely to take part in , but this effect was less pronounced.

Dr Cousins said: "Time is a finite resource, so time spent in social networking must come at the expense of other activities. Our study suggests that physical activity may be one of those activities.

"Our findings are intriguing, but we have not conclusively demonstrated that social networking causes lower levels of . We will need to carry out more research to see if it really is a case of makes you fat rather than Twitter makes you fitter."

Explore further: Facebook makes us feel good about ourselves: study

Related Stories

Facebook makes us feel good about ourselves: study

June 26, 2012

People love social networks. That's the obvious conclusion from Facebook's 900 million active users and its current standing as one of the most visited sites on the web, second only to Google. New research from the University ...

Recommended for you

A metabolic master switch underlying human obesity

August 19, 2015

Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges of the 21st century. Affecting more than 500 million people worldwide, obesity costs at least $200 billion each year in the United States alone, and contributes to potentially ...

Scientists probe obesity's ties to breast cancer risk

August 20, 2015

Obesity is a well-known risk factor for breast cancer, but researchers haven't figured out what connects the two. A new study suggests the link may be due to a change in breast tissue structure, which might promote breast ...

Can a new drug brown the fat and trim the obese person?

May 28, 2015

New research has found that a variant of a drug used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension prompts weight loss in obese mice. Among mice fed a high-fat diet, those who did not get the medication became obese while medicated ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.