Female Facebook Users Can Develop Eating Disorders

New study reveals girls who spend more time on Facebook are more likely to develop anorexia, bulimia

(RxWiki News) A new study from the University of Haifa finds girls who spend more time on Facebook, the social networking Web site, are more likely to develop eating disorders.

These disorders include anorexia nervosa (the refusal to maintain a healthy body weight coupled with an intense fear of getting "fat"), bulimia nervosa (restraining of food intake followed by an over intake or binging period) and exaggerated dieting.

Prof. Yael Latzer, Prof. Ruth Katz and Zohar Spivak of the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences at the University of Haifa set out to analyze the effects of media exposure and self-empowerment in relation to the development of eating disorder in young girls. The girls were asked a series of questions and asked to relate their Internet and television viewing habits, which included a request to give the number of TV series they watched that featured extreme standards of physical image (the “Barbie” model).

The researchers found that, of the the 248 girls aged 12 to 19 who took part in the study, the more time they spent on Facebook, the more likely they were to suffer from bulimia, anorexia, physical dissatisfaction, negative physical self-image, a negative approach to eating and increased urges to be on a weight-loss diet.

The study also revealed that the level of personal empowerment in these girls correlated with more positive physical self-images and the lower the chances of developing an eating disorder.

Other studies have not looked on Facebook any more favorably. A 2009 study from Ohio State University found college students who use Facebook spend less time studying and have lower grade point averages compared to students who don't have Facebook accounts. But they do have more Friends.

Review Date: 
February 8, 2011