Anxiety over Facebook photos linked to eating disorders.

a photo of a girl wearing an 'untag' me t-shirt

The frenzy to psychoanalyse social media effects on its millions of users has resulted in an explosion of studies, experiments and k…k…k….k…..KRAZY theories.

This one however rings true….sadly.

A study was taken of Facebook users, 95% of whom were considered to be 'normal' users. Their criteria was summed up as an average of 3 visits to Facebook a day of about 20 minutes duration each visit. I can get with that… doesn't seem excessive considering that Facebook is now so much more than a social site. People use it for business, playing games, watching videos and catching up amongst other things.

So the female participants were graded on their Facebook usage, on how much value they placed on 'likes' and how often they would 'untag' themselves from photos.

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.

The fact is that Facebook is probably the epitome of a globally successful social media website and regretfully is equally as successful as a social comparison website.

The effect is most notable amongst younger women and has been shown to have a causal link between self perception, body image and anxiety. The researchers conclude that…….

"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."

Our relationship with food and our own body image is cemented deeply into the unconscious mind in these socially developmental years. The effects can last a lifetime and if the mindset of self worth being linked to size and shape is adopted it can prove to be an unhappy consequence. 

In my practice we see many clients with weight management issues and it can be wonderful to deal effectively with the specifics of different food cravings and addictions….happily knocking chocolate on the head or seamlessly giving pasties the swerve, crisps can be cardboard and unappetising and portion sizes reduced to satisfying. However the greatest life changing or should that be diet changing work we do is challenging the existing mindset. You think differently therefore you behave differently.