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Facebook and Negative Body Image

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Facebook. You log on to connect with friends and colleagues, post pictures and market your wares. But could that daily networking session be hurting your self-esteem?

According to the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt, in Baltimore, the answer is yes. Researchers reached this conclusion after surveying 600 Facebook users, aged 16–40.

Here are some insights:

  • 51% of respondents feel more conscious of their body and weight after seeing photos of themselves.
  • 32% feel sad when comparing photos of themselves with friends’ photos.
  • 44% wish they had the same body or weight as a friend when they look at photos.
  • 37% feel they need to change parts of their body when comparing friends’ bodies with their own in photos.
  • 25% are happy with their current body and weight.

The researchers also noted that Facebook users were prone to engage in negative behaviors:

  • 31% have avoided specific food items, food groups or entire categories of food in an attempt to lose or control weight.
  • 17% have engaged in binge eating; 7% have purged.
  • 12% currently have or have had an eating disorder; 8% have thought they might have an eating disorder.

“Facebook is making it easier for people to spend more
time and energy criticizing their own bodies and wishing
they looked like someone else,” explained Harry Brandt, MD, director of the organization. “In this age of modern technology and constant access to smart phones and the Internet, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to remove themselves from images and other triggers that promote negative body image, [lead to] low self-esteem and may ultimately contribute
to eating disorders.”

Want to steer your clients toward body-positive Facebook pages? Here are a few, courtesy
of the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt:


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Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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