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Greater the social media use, higher the body image concerns


Washington: Logging on to social media sites frequently throughout the week puts you at a greater risk of developing eating and body image concerns, suggests a recent study.

Gender, specific age, race and income did not influence the association. The University of Pittsburgh study found that all demographic groups were equally affected by the link between social media and eating and body image concerns, indicating that preventative messages should target a broad population.

Lead author Jaime E. Sidani “We’ve long known that exposure to traditional forms of media, such as fashion magazines and television, is associated with the development of disordered eating and body image concerns, likely due to the positive portrayal of ‘thin’ models and celebrities. Social media combines many of the visual aspects of traditional media with the opportunity for social media users to interact and propagate stereotypes that can lead to eating and body image concerns.”

Dr. Sidani and her colleagues sampled 1,765 U.S. adults ages 19 through 32 in 2014, using questionnaires to determine social media use.

The participants who spent the most time on social media throughout the day had 2.2 times the risk of reporting eating and body image concerns, compared to their peers who spent less time on social media. And participants who reported most frequently checking social media throughout the week had 2.6 times the risk, compared with those who checked least frequently.

Senior author Brian A. Primack said, “It could be that young adults who use more social media are exposed to more images and messages that encourage development of disordered eating.”

Dr. Sidani added that more research is needed in order to develop effective interventions to counter social media content that either intentionally or unintentionally increases the risk of eating disorders in users.

The study appears in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (ANI)

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