STUDY: Facebook Can Increase Risk Of Eating Disorders

Approaching Facebook with a poor self image can exacerbate mental health problems, as a study produced by the University of Haifa found a correlation between use of the social network and eating disorders in females age 12 to 19.

The research, led by Prof. Yael Latzer, Prof. Ruth Katz and Zohar Spivak from the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health examined the effects of “media exposure and personal empowerment” on a group of 249 nonreligious Jewish females.

The girls in the study perused a fairly wide range of media — including plenty of content depicting females whose bodies have been digitally edited to look thinner than they really are. Females with low self esteem proved more vulnerable to all of these images, and researchers found the strongest link between eating disorders and Facebook.

Facebook holds up a mirror — make that a magnifying glass — to society and adds visibility to things that already happen. So with respect to eating disorders, social media gives females more opportunity to compare themselves with their peer group and others.

Ever notice how groups of females in situations that promoted comparisons between them also happen to be at least unusually thin or prone to strange eating habits, if not having outright eating disorders? It’s almost a stereotype that sorority girls have group purges after meals — my sister cited this when she transferred colleges in the hopes of leaving the Greek system.

That said, I would like to see the University of Haifa share actual numbers from the eating disorder study. And while we’re at it, additional research involving larger numbers of females could provide more conclusive findings and possibly suggest ways to use Facebook to promote better attitudes among at-risk females.

What do you think about the study finding a correlation between Facebook use and eating disorders?

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