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

for eating disorders. Facebook combines those factors.

"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 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 research is important because it may lead to interventions to reduce risk factors for eating disorders, which are among the most serious forms of mental illness.

"Eating disorders are associated with the highest rates of mortality of any psychiatric illness," Keel said. "They are associated with high rates of chronicity they're not things that women necessarily grow out of. We know that peer factors have a significant influence, so understanding when and how peers do things that are unhelpful to one another gives us an important opportunity to protect and prevent."

Ironically, Facebook may be one of the best ways to employ intervention strategies, such as encouraging women to put a stop to so-called "fat talk."

"That's when women get together and engage in negative commentary, usually about their own body, and it gets reinforced because it's a way women bond with one another and they get reassurance 'Oh, no, you don't look fat. Look at me,'" she said. "It's bad for women because it reinforces how important it is to be thin and reinforces really negative talk about the self."

Her advice to young women?

"Consider what it is you are pursuing when you post on Facebook," she said. "Try 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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Contact: Jill Elish
jelish@fsu.edu
850-644-8345
Florida State University
Source:Eurekalert

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