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Hungry for 'likes': Frequent Facebook use linked to eating disorder risk, study finds
Date:3/5/2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Frequent Facebook users might be sharing more than party pictures, vacation videos and shameless selfies they also share a greater risk of eating disorders, according to a new study led by Florida State University researchers.

Psychology Professor Pamela K. Keel studied 960 college women and found that more time on Facebook was associated with higher levels of disordered eating. Women who placed greater importance on receiving comments and "likes" on their status updates and were more likely to untag photos of themselves and compare their own photos to friends' posted photos reported the highest levels of disordered eating.

"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," Keel said.

The findings were outlined in a paper, "Do You 'Like' My Photo? Facebook Use Maintains Eating Disorder Risk," which was published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. Keel's co-authors are Annalise G. Mabe, a 2013 alumna who proposed the topic for her undergraduate honors thesis, and doctoral student K. Jean Forney, both of FSU.

While other studies have linked social media and eating disorders, the Florida State study is the first to show that spending just 20 minutes on Facebook actually contributes to the risk of eating disorders by reinforcing women's concerns about weight and shape and increasing anxiety.

The finding is significant because more than 95 percent of the women who participated in the study use Facebook, and those with Facebook accounts described checking the site multiple times a day, typically spending 20 minutes during each visit. That amounts to more than an hour on the site each day, according to Keel.

Researchers have long recognized the powerful impact of peer/social influences and traditional media on the risk
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Contact: Jill Elish
jelish@fsu.edu
850-644-8345
Florida State University
Source:Eurekalert

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