Facebook 'Likes' linked to eating disorders: Study

Facebook shares and likes are reportedly linked to eating disorders, a new study has revealed.

| Updated on: Mar 06 2014, 16:20 IST
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Apart from sharing party snaps, vacation videos and indefinite selfies, frequent Facebook users do run the risk of developing eating disorders, research shows.

And those hungry for 'likes' on the Facebook, reported the highest levels of disordered eating.

'Facebook provides a fun way to stay connected with friends but it also presents people, especially women, with a new medium through which they are confronted by a thin ideal that impacts their risk for eating disorders,' explained psychology professor Pamela K. Keel from the Florida State University.

Keel studied 960 college women and found that more time on Facebook was associated with higher levels of disordered eating.

Women who placed greater importance on receiving comments and 'likes' on their status updates, untag photos of themselves and compare their own photos to friends' posted photos, reported the highest levels of disordered eating.

'This is the first study to show that spending just 20 minutes on Facebook actually contributes to the risk of eating disorders by reinforcing women's concerns about weight and shape and increasing anxiety,' Keel noted.

Researchers have long recognised the powerful impact of peer/social influences and traditional media on the risk for eating disorders. Facebook combines those factors.

'Your friends are posting carefully curated photos of themselves on their Facebook page that you are being exposed to constantly. It represents a very unique merging of two things that we already knew could increase risk for eating disorders,' stressed Keel.

Eating disorders are associated with the highest rates of mortality of any psychiatric illness.

'Try to remember that you are a whole person and not an object, so do not display yourself as a commodity that then can be approved or not approved,' advised Keel in a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

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First Published Date: 06 Mar, 15:57 IST