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Could Facebook Be Encouraging Eating Disorders?

A new study finds anxiety over Facebook photos linked to unhealthy body image issues

Sure, Facebook is a great way to connect with friends and family, but it could be doing terrible things for our self image, says a new study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. A survey of 960 female Facebook users found the more time they spent on the social networking site, the less positive they felt about their body image.

Study participants were evaluated based on a number of behaviors, including how much time they spent on Facebook, how important "likes" are, and whether or not they untagged photos of themselves.

Dr. Pamela Keel, who conducted the study, found that users who spent 20 minutes or more on Facebook a day (which, let's face it, is most of us) were more prone to have anxiety about their weight and the way they looked. Keel is concerned that too much Facebook use could trigger eating disorders in some young women. "This causal link is important because anxiety and body image concerns both increase risk for developing eating disorders," she said.

But the again, Facebook could be used as a tool to help fight against negative body image. "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," said Keel. So perhaps there's a way to harness that for good? [Medical News Today]


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