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."

Explore further: Does Facebook use affect body image in teen girls?

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 ...

'Dislikes' fail to keep people off Facebook: survey

February 3, 2014
There's a lot that users dislike about Facebook, but that hasn't kept people off the world's biggest social network.

Study finds link between sexual harassment and 'purging'—in men

May 9, 2013
Men who experience high levels of sexual harassment are much more likely than women to induce vomiting and take laxatives and diuretics in an attempt to control their weight, according to a surprising finding by Michigan ...

Recommended for you

Many kinds of happiness promote better health, study finds

July 21, 2017
A new study links the capacity to feel a variety of upbeat emotions to better health.

Study examines effects of stopping psychiatric medication

July 20, 2017
Despite numerous obstacles and severe withdrawal effects, long-term users of psychiatric drugs can stop taking them if they choose, and mental health care professionals could be more helpful to such individuals, according ...

Study finds gene variant increases risk for depression

July 20, 2017
A University of Central Florida study has found that a gene variant, thought to be carried by nearly 25 percent of the population, increases the odds of developing depression.

In making decisions, are you an ant or a grasshopper?

July 20, 2017
In one of Aesop's famous fables, we are introduced to the grasshopper and the ant, whose decisions about how to spend their time affect their lives and future. The jovial grasshopper has a blast all summer singing and playing, ...

Perceiving oneself as less physically active than peers is linked to a shorter lifespan

July 20, 2017
Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about equally active as other people your age?

Old antibiotic could form new depression treatment

July 19, 2017
An antibiotic used mostly to treat acne has been found to improve the quality of life for people with major depression, in a world-first clinical trial conducted at Deakin University.

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.