Does Facebook Use Increase the Risk of Eating Disorders Among College Women?

Pamela Keel, FSU researcher.A new study led by Pamela K. Keel, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, finds that college women who spend more time on Facebook than their peers are more likely to have eating disorders. Furthermore, the results showed that college women who placed greater importance on comments and “likes” of their status updates, as well as college women who compare their photos with their friends’ photos were the most likely to have eating disorders.

Professor Keel, who is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Minnesota, stated, “Facebook provides a fun way to stay connected with friends, but it also presents women with a new medium through which they are confronted by a thin ideal that impacts their risk for eating disorders.”

The research found that spending 20 minutes or more on Facebook per day contributes to the risk of eating disorders by reinforcing women’s concerns about weight and shape and increasing anxiety.

“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,” Professor Keel said. “Now your friends are posting carefully curated photos of themselves on their Facebook page that you’re being exposed to constantly. It represents a very unique merging of two things that we already knew could increase risk for eating disorders.”

The paper, “Do You Like My Photo? Facebook Use Maintains Eating Disorder Risk,” was published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. It may be accessed here.

Below is a video showing Professor Keel discussing the research.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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