Hungry for 'likes': Anxiety over Facebook photos linked to eating disorders

March 4, 2014

Facebook has become a global phenomenon and an active space for social comparison. With the increase in technology use, there is a positive correlation with decreased body image in young women. In a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, 960 female college students were evaluated on the time they spend on social media sites, how important "likes" are, and whether or not they untag photos of themselves.

"Over 95% of college women in our study use Facebook, and those with Facebook accounts described typically spending 20 minutes on the site during each visit, amounting to over an hour on the site each day," said Dr. Pamela K. Keel.

Women who spent more time on Facebook reported a higher incidence of appearance-focused behaviors and reported greater eating pathology. These women were more likely to give greater significance to receiving comments and "likes" on status updates, frequently untagged pictures of themselves and compared their photos to friends.

"In examining the immediate consequences of Facebook use, we found that 20 minutes of Facebook use contributed to maintenance of higher weight and shape concerns and anxiety compared to a control internet condition. This causal link is important because anxiety and concerns both increase risk for developing ," Keel stated.

Although it is a main cause to the issue, Facebook could possibly become a maintenance factor for prevention programs. The main objective is to encourage women to develop better self-image and practice responsible use of social media sites.

"Facebook merges powerful peer influences with broader societal messages that focus on the importance of women's appearance into a single platform that women carry with them throughout the day. As researchers and clinicians attempt to understand and address risk factors for eating disorders, greater attention is needed to the emerging role of social media in young people's lives."

More information: Annalise G. Mabe, K. Jean Forney, Pamela K. Keel, 'Do you "like" my photo? Facebook use maintains eating disorder risk' International Journal of Eating Disorders, DOI: 10.1002/eat.22254

Related Stories

Does Facebook use affect body image in teen girls?

December 3, 2013

"Appearance exposure" on the Internet has been linked to body image disturbance among adolescent girls. A new study that links specific Facebook activities, but not overall Facebook use to body dissatisfaction and a drive ...

Recommended for you

How language gives your brain a break

August 3, 2015

Here's a quick task: Take a look at the sentences below and decide which is the most effective. (1) "John threw out the old trash sitting in the kitchen." (2) "John threw the old trash sitting in the kitchen out."

Neural efficiency hypothesis confirmed

July 27, 2015

One of the big questions intelligence researchers grapple with is just how differences in intelligence are reflected in the human brain. Researchers at ETH Zurich have succeeded in studying further details relating to suspected ...

How does color blindness affect color preferences?

July 21, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—Dichromacy is a color vision defect in which one of the three types of cone photoreceptors is missing. The condition is hereditary and sex-linked, mostly affecting males. Although researchers have explored ...

0 comments

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.