Sunday, June 9, 2024

Why Does Social Media Cause Eating Disorders

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Could social media impact eating disorders?

At Magnolia Creek, our holistic approach to treating eating disorders emphasizes self-acceptance, validation, and personal empowerment. Designed to support clients as they explore the contributing factors associated with their eating disorder, our healing environment helps clients challenge their thoughts and behaviors that prevent them from accepting themselves and living fully and freely.

Remember, you are never alone, and we are here to help you if you are struggling with eating disordered behaviors. Magnolia Creeks comprehensive care plan for treating eating disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders restores health, and our collaborative treatment environment is essential to recovery. Using an evidence-based treatment model, we work with you to help you fully recover. To learn more about our treatment program, please call us at or complete our contact form.

The Role Of The Media In The Maintenance Of Eating Disorders

Just as young women with weight and shape preoccupation, body dissatisfaction, internalization of the thin ideal, and tendency for social comparison are most influenced by the media, so are they also more likely to use the media. Women with anorexia nervosa engage in heavy media use and describe their consumption of fashion magazines as an addiction, with many saying that their greatest media dependency occurred after their eating disorders had begun to take control of their lives . Qualitative results supported this suggestion by demonstrating that the relationships were consistent with an interactive, circular model as used to explain other compulsive and addictive processes . Beauty magazines become how-to manuals to help women suffering from eating disorders in their attempts to obtain an elusive and impossible standard of physical thinness . Fashion magazines support the anorexic desire to restrict, and counterbalance dissonance-creating comments from friends and family by promoting and endorsing messages that encourage thinness and dieting .

Focus On The Body Image Positives In Media

Media can and should be used as a conduit for promoting good health and supporting prevention strategies. In recent years, some advertisers have campaigned for a more idealistic standard of beauty regarding young girls and women.

One such advocate is Dove®. Their Real Beauty campaign celebrates the natural physical variation of women and encourages them to be confident and comfortable with themselves . Another is the Health Initiative founded by the Council of Fashion Designers of America with the support of Vogue Worldwide. The Health Initiatives goal is to help those vulnerable to eating disorders by depicting healthy body images in their magazines .

These cases of positive body image efforts in the media are promising. However, more effort is needed to persuade the television, movie, and magazine industries to employ more models and actresses whose weight could be described as healthy, not underweight.

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The Link Between Social Media And Body Image

Seeing constant examples of perfect bodies on social media can promote the message that these bodies are normal and most acceptable. These images can make people feel as though their bodies are less acceptable by comparison and have a negative impact on body image.

Social media can encourage competition and comparison that impacts how people view their own bodies. Viewing beautifully edited pictures can make people feel like their lives, bodies or experiences are less valuable compared to others.

This feeling can be isolating or damaging and can contribute to body image concerns and harmful beliefs or behaviors. Social media has contributed to eating disorders and the statistics surrounding these harmful messages are concerning.

For example, research has shown that using Facebook can increase experience related concerns, particularly for people more likely to compare themselves to others. Specific activities like uploading more photos or spending more time on social media are linked with poorer body image.

In some cases, people with existing concerns about their body might use social media to look for positive or negative feedback on appearance. Research has shown that high social media use is linked with greater odds of developing an eating disorder.

Media Does Not Cause Eating Disorders It Is Merely A Factor

Thinspiration: Eating Disorders And Social Media

Just as flour is the not the only ingredient needed to make a cake, the media cannot solely be blamed for ‘causing’ eating disorders. Yes to a certain extent film, magazines and social networking sites such as Instagram and Facebook are partially responsible for these disorders. But one should NEVER go as far to say that the media causes it. Many people have said on this sight that their own personal disorders were ’caused’ by media sources. Whilst that may be their own diagnostic I could go on to other sites debating this topic with people stating influences such as depression, peer pressure and loneliness as the reasons behind them developing an eating disorder. So on that front your arguements are irrelevant. That’s like me saying all flu is only caused by running around in the rain. A completely ludicrous statement right? Of course. EVERY disease has MANY DIFFERENT causes. Whilst the media may be an unfortunate contributor to these dreadful psychological and physical diseases , they are just one minute piece in the jigsaw puzzle that is eating disorders.

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    How Can Treatment Help With Eating Disorders

    If you think you, or someone you know, may have an eating disorder, please call 0800 691 1490 or to submit an enquiry form. Arthur House provides an alternative to traditional hospital treatment, within a comfortable residential centre focused on compassion and support. The Arthur House therapeutic programme looks at the psychological causes of eating disorders, helping you to break negative beliefs and thought patterns. Practical exposure work, such as supervised shopping and cooking, also helps you to gain the confidence to move forward with your future goals, without the pain of damaged self-esteem holding you back.

    For professionals looking to make a referral, please .

    For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding eating disorder treatment, please call 0800 840 3219 or . For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

    Blog reviewed by Steve Clarke ), Hospital Director at Priorys Life Works and Arthur House,

    Protecting Your Physical And Mental Health

    These findings may be alarming, but they dont necessarily mean that you should log off of all of your social media sites or delete every mobile app. There are a variety of ways you can escape the adverse effects of social media without abandoning your social networks.

    Greta Gliessner, licensed clinical social worker and founder of Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists, suggests using social networks for empowerment by unplugging, unfollowing, and unwinding. She recommends engaging in activities that dont involve a computer or mobile device, like going outside, calling a friend, or practicing meditation.

    Ms. Gliessner also suggests unfollowing individuals who seem obsessed with appearance, food, or exercise, and blocking social media users who engage in body shaming. Lastly, she says unwinding, like replacing time on social media sites with mindfulness techniques or cooking healthy meals, allows you to live in the present moment and release yourself from the stress caused by the digital world.

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    What Are Teen Eating Disorders

    According to the National Institute for Mental Health, nearly 3 percent of all teens, ages 13 to 18, struggle with an eating disorder at some pointand only a few get the help they need. Teen eating disorders include bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and other mental health issues associated with a distorted view of their body and disordered eating.

    Photo by jeshoots

    Its been shown that eating disorders affect adolescents and young adults much more often than others.

    Q& a: Frequent Social Media Use Linked To Eating Disorders Among Adolescents

    Does social media affect eating disorders?

    Healio Interview

    Disclosures: We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact .

    Recent media reports have highlighted the health risks associated with social media use among adolescents.

    According to reporting by the Wall Street Journal, Facebook failed to address flaws within the platform after research conducted by its subsidiary Instagram showed that frequent use was linked to increased levels of anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts among adolescent girls.

    The discovery that social media use is linked to body dysmorphia and eating disorders is not novel, according toPamela Keel, PhD, a distinguished research professor of psychology at Florida State University. In 2014, Keel and colleagues published an empirical article in the International Journal of Eating Disorders that showed more frequent Facebook use led to greater disordered eating, weight and shape concerns and anxiety. Yet, the recent news surrounding Facebooks lack of transparency has caused a resurgence in attention paid to the health consequences of social media.

    Healio Primary Care spoke with Keel to learn more about the association and what primary care physicians can do to mitigate the harm of social media use with regard to eating disorders.

    Healio Primary Care: What impact can social media use have on eating disorders and body dysmorphia, specifically?


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    The Role Of The Media In The Treatment And Prevention Of Eating Disorders

    Much of the literature on the role of the media in the treatment and prevention of eating disorders has focused on media literacy, activism, and advocacy . Media literacy training involves teaching people to think critically about different forms of the media, increasing awareness of media use, and analyzing the content and intentions of the media producers. Through media literacy, adolescent girls learn how to decode and discuss the visual images and the messages in the media they learn that all media images are constructed, that what they see is not necessarily reality, and that all media creations represent a point of view . Media literacy usually emphasizes that all forms of media are created through very deliberate, well-researched processes that are primarily profit-driven .

    Researchers have also focused on ways to combat the risk factors that make certain individuals more vulnerable to the medias negative effects. It has been suggested that treatment programs for eating disorders will be most effective when they incorporate media literacy with strategies to help address the patients deficits in self-esteem and social skills .

    Coding Of Study Features

    The following information was retrieved from the selected studies: name of the first author publication year age Body mass index percentage of males percentage of college degree percentage of white publication type region survey methods sample source SNS type SNSs usage type of disordered eating behavior measure of eating correlations between SNS and disordered eating behaviors.

    To establish internal encoder reliability, two independent coders coded three articles randomly selected from 22 articles. After two rounds of coding, all coders achieved acceptable inter-coder reliability . They then independently coded the remaining 19 articles and reached an absolute consensus of 95%. The coders resolve any differences through discussion to obtain the final coding result.

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    Useof The Social Media

    ConcerningSM usage, for many people, it is a daily activity and constitutes a new virtual scenario that potentiallyinfluences the psychological and social development of younger people.Studying the performance of this activity is a complex reality thatgoes beyond evaluating the time spent on SM by young people.Furthermore,it is not currently possible to establish a relationship between thenumber of hours spent on SM and problematic use of the Internet.However, there is evidence that problematic use of SM leads to adecrease in real-life, social community participation, and academicachievement, as well as to relationship problems, all of which may beindicative of potential addiction .

    Teens Who Spend More Time On Social Media Have More Disordered Eating Behaviors


    There is nothing new in worrying about what social media might be doing to kids developing self-image. Just recently, one group of researchers showed that even 30 minutes a day increased teens’ feelings of anxiety, depression, poor self-image, and loneliness. Now, a different group of researchers in Australia has found that the more time teens spent on social media, the more likely they were to have an eating disorder.

    Most previous studies have looked at the effect of social media on body image in women without looking specifically at behaviors. The researchers behind this latest study, published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, wanted to know whether social media time changed what actually kids did. They reported that a clear pattern of association was found between usage and cognitions and behaviors with this exploratory study confirming that these relationships occur at youngerage than previously investigated.

    Kids love social media with pictures.

    Anyone who spends time with kids knows that they prefer image-based social media. Snapchat is the most popular among the U.S. teens I see in the pediatric office, with Instagram a close second. These two networks are remarkably similar: Kids post selfies and wait to see how many likes they get. Often, to make sure they look right, they make extensive use of filters and image editing.

    Arent eating disorders a female problem?

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    Impact Of Social Media

    Recent years have seen a proliferation of online images known as “thinspiration” or “thinspo.” These are primarily found on pro-eating disorder websites, although they have been popping up on more mainstream sites as well. Research has shown that viewing these images results in a lowered caloric intake and lower self-esteem.

    There have also been studies that indicate that using social media sites, such as Instagram and Facebook, puts adolescent girls and women at greater risk for disordered eating. It also places everyone at risk of feeling poorly about themselves and dissatisfied with their bodies.

    More research is needed in this area, but it is reasonable to believe that frequent use of social media does affect how a person views themselves.

    Description Of Studies Selected

    Figure 1 shows a PRISMA flowchart illustrating the procedure for choosing the studies for this meta-analysis. In the searching process, five databases were used to find out appropriate studies. A total of 480 articles were obtained in the initial search. After screening for duplicates, 395 articles were left. In addition, 47 articles were selected through reading abstracts and matching criteria. Eventually, only 22 articles available for full-text review were included in the meta-analysis.

    Figure 1. PRISMA flowchart.

    All studies included in this meta-analysis were published between 2010 and 2020. There were 29 independent sample sizes and 87 effect sizes in all 22 studies. A total of 13,301 samples were covered. The sample size of males was 5,031 , and 8,270 females. The average age of the sample was between 11.19 and 30.53, and the average BMI varied from 18.92 to 24.69. There were 73 effect sizes obtained from Western and 14 from Eastern. Moreover, 87 effect sizes were reported on the relationship between SNS and disordered eating behaviors . Please refer to Supplementary Data Sheet 1 in Supplementary Material for the coding of this research.

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    Literature Search And Study Selection

    Related studies were searched and retrieved from five databases on July 18th, 2020. The following search keywords for social network usage and disordered eating were chosen: AND . In addition, a manual search was performed of the reference list in the identified articles to find any other relevant research. It is worth noting that Google Scholar was selected as the fourth resource because it can span multiple disciplines, so that it can be used as a final check to ensure that all articles that meet the current inclusion criteria are captured. Considering the rise of social media, only documents published after 2010 were selected. In fact, no document exceeding this time limit during the search was found. This meta-analysis also aimed to find out the relationship between SNS and disordered eating behaviors in existing studies.

    After the initial search, 480 articles were found. The following criteria were applied to screen the 480 articles:

    reported the correlation between social network usage and disordered eating behaviors , which had to be a primary goal of the studies.

    Only the articles that met the above three criteria were selected.

    The Increased Risk Of Eating Disorders Today

    Eating Disorders: Why Are Girls More Affected?

    It was already the case in 2019 that 82% of people were using the internet every day, with 91% of 16-24 year olds spending their time online mainly using social media. So given that the 2020 coronavirus pandemic has seen much of the population spending more time at home, the statistics around technology and internet usage will be higher than ever. Social platforms can, to some extent, be used for emotional support by allowing connection with others, particularly during a time of increased isolation from social distancing. However, negative online influences only worsen as we live more of our lives online.

    A critical issue with our increasing use of technology is that the increased exposure to online images can result in a higher risk of body dysmorphic behaviours. Many of us are suddenly much more aware of how we present ourselves to others day-to-day, as we see ourselves reflected back on our screens during video calls. At the same time, increased time on social media means seeing more of others online than ever before, becoming more used to what they look like through technology than in reality. If many of those people are also editing their digital appearance, the risks of unrealistic comparisons are clearly now higher than in previous years, when we didnt spend so much spare time online.

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    Negative Effects Of Social Media On Self

    Not only can social media impact how people view and feel about their bodies, but it can also worsen a persons self-esteem. Personal self-esteem relates to how worthy or valuable someone believes themselves to be. When someones body or life doesnt match what they see online, it can lead to feeling worthless or inadequate.

    Some of the negative effects of social media on self-esteem include:

    • Depression
    • Low-self esteem

    There are a few ways that social media affects self-esteem. For many people, social media can serve as an example of what life should look like, whether that is appearance, wealth or accomplishments. Self-esteem is harder hit when social media profiles contain information that promotes upwards comparison, like information about having lots of friends or a healthy lifestyle.

    The negative effects of social media on self-esteem are particularly dangerous because they arent just limited to appearance. Feeling inadequate because of body shape or size can also contribute to lower self-worth in other areas of life. Feelings of worthlessness are linked with higher rates of depression and anxiety and can also contribute to unhealthy behaviors.

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