Social media perpetuates body image and eating problem risk 2023

In light of recent findings showing 91% of U.K. and U.S. teenagers use social media and that over 50% check their accounts at least once per hour, researchers chose to investigate the impact of such extensive social media use on body image issues and eating disorders in adolescents.

Alexandra Dane and Komal Bhatia from the Institute of Global Health at University College London gathered and evaluated data from 50 research involving 10 to 24-year-olds in 17 countries. The focus of the research was on comparing social media use to physical and mental health consequences.

As most kids use social media, disregarding the risks might have generational effects.

Often, eating problems are deadly illnesses. Due to the fact that the vast majority of contemporary children use social media, ignoring the hazards might have generational repercussions. Researchers, parents, educators, legislators, and healthcare providers can employ resources in a proactive and preventative manner if they comprehend the elements that contribute to pathology.

The report “The social media diet: A scoping review to investigate the association between social media, body image, and eating disorders amongst young people,” published in PLOS Global Public Health, suggests that social media usage leads to body image concerns, eating disorders, disordered eating, and poor mental health.

It was discovered that certain time and frequency exposures to social media trends, pro-eating disorder material, appearance-focused platforms, and involvement in appearance-related activities strengthened the association between pathology and appearance-related behaviors. This association was additionally strengthened by a high BMI, being female, and prior body image issues, but social media literacy and body admiration acted as buffers.

Instagram and Snapchat, appearance-focused sites, are strongly related with body image concerns, eating disorder pathology, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, according to three cross-sectional research.

33 research have found associations between social media use and body image dissatisfaction, including body shame, low self-esteem, and body-related anxiety. Five of these research showed that unhappiness with one’s body image precedes eating disorder pathology.

In 17 research, appearance-related behaviors such as “selfie” avoidance, picture modification, and sharing modified images were connected with body image dissatisfaction and eating disorder pathology.

Eleven studies linked social media use to binge, purging, laxative, and extreme dieting..

Seven research examined the correlation between social media usage and body image or eating disorder-related outcomes. Two further research demonstrate the relationship between frequent social media use and body image dissatisfaction. Five cross-sectional studies found a correlation between social media consumption and a variety of eating problems.

Hashtag risky

With conflicting results, eight research explored the influence of the #fitspiration movement. 50% of respondents supported the pathological connection, 25% somewhat supported it, and 25% denied it. While #fitspiration spurred good food and activity in some individuals, others felt pushed to exercise excessively, resulting in binge and eating disorders. A mixed-methods study indicated that 17.7% of Instagram users were at risk for developing an eating problem.

Hashtag enabling

Three studies investigated the #thinspiration movement, with one determining that the hashtag encouraged hunger as a lifestyle choice rather than a mental illness symptom. The posts gave advise for bad eating disorder behaviors and ways for concealing them. 96% of participants in a cross-sectional research followed the thin-ideal on social media, with 86% meeting the criteria for a clinical/subclinical eating problem.

The study team from University College London also uncovered a number of additional personal variables that promote the social media pathology link.

Parents who grew up in carefully controlled media contexts may think that the social media of today adheres to comparable standards. According to the present study, “…social media usage in a developmentally vulnerable age group is unprecedented and generally uncontrolled,” and “…the possible connection between social media, body image dissatisfaction, and eating disorders is concerning.”

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