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Frequent Facebook use could increase eating disorder risk

Facebook use may affect eating habits.

Facebook use may affect eating habits. Credit: iStock

College women who spent 20 minutes in a laboratory looking at their Facebook page demonstrated weight and shape concerns that could increase their risk for developing an eating disorder, according to a study led by researchers at Florida State University.

Women who placed greater importance on receiving comments and “likes” on their status updates and were more likely to untag photos of themselves reported the highest levels of disordered eating, according to psychology professor Pamela Keel, who studied 960 college women.

“Now it’s not the case that the only place you’re seeing thin and idealized images of women in bathing suits is on magazine covers,” Keel says in a news release about the study. “Now your friends are posting carefully curated photos of themselves on their Facebook page that you’re being exposed to constantly.”

The findings were published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. Co-authors of the study include FSU doctoral student K. Jean Forney and Annalise G. Made, a 2013 alumna who had proposed the topic for her undergraduate honors thesis.

Keel advised young female Facebook users to “remember that you are a whole person and not an object, so don’t display yourself as a commodity that then can be approved or not approved.”

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