Social media combines many of the visual aspects of traditional media with the opportunity for social media users to interact and propagate stereotypes that can lead to eating and body image concerns.
Logging on to social media sites frequently throughout the week or spending hours trolling various social feeds during the day is linked to a greater risk of young adults developing eating and body image concerns, a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine analysis discovered.
Gender, specific age, race and income did not influence the association; the study found that all demographic groups were equally affected by the link between social media and eating and body image concerns, indicating that preventative messages should target a broad population.
The results are reported in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the research was funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
“We’ve long known that exposure to traditional forms of media, such as fashion magazines and television, is associated with the development of disordered eating and body image concerns, likely due to the positive portrayal of ‘thin’ models and celebrities,” said lead author Jaime E. Sidani, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant director of Pitt’s Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health. “Social media combines many of the visual aspects of traditional media with the opportunity for social media users to interact and propagate stereotypes that can lead to eating and body image concerns.”
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