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Body Image and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

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With all of our current understanding so far we can see how much of an impact media has on triggering eating disorders. Research has only just begun to analyze the relationship between social media outlets such as facebook, body image and symptoms of eating disorders. Facebook is available at the fingertips of most adolescents today which allows them easy access to seek social comparison and negative feedback. Therefore it is an essential area to examine in relation to eating disordered individuals who are already prone to interpersonal dysfunction and low self-esteem. To our knowledge, just one published study on this subject is available.

Smith et al. created a questionnaire with 7 questions that measured participants’ Facebook usage. Participants supported their agreeableness with statements such as.

In a study done by students at the University of Vanderbilt found that 87.8% of participants were comparing themselves to others on Facebook and that 46.3% of these comparisons were based on attractiveness as well as another 15.6% based on accomplishment and success.The study consisted of female students attending the university from grades freshman- to sophomore year and spoke english. The study began with the collection of basic data on social media use, eating behaviors, and body image. Previous eating disorder diagnoses were noted through an optional question included in the baseline measure.Under the grounds of this study, this is worrisome behavior in a population already at high-risk for eating disordered behavior. Young females are not only comparing themselves to those they see in person and in the media, but now have thousands of profiles at their disposal to compare themselves to.

Although this eating disorder is most prevalent in adolescent females, anyone can be a victim of it, and if left untreated for too long this disease could be fatal. Social media is continuously sneaking into our daily lives and that highlights the need to investigate its impacts on mental health. And because theres is a heavy amount of comments and pictures it is essential to identify the consequences that hurt body image.

The purpose of this study was: 1) How are adolescent women using social media? 2) Is there an association with body image and eating behavior? 3) Are individuals that have higher levels of eating disorder behaviors utilizing social media different than their normal peers? 4) Does a brief exposure to social media (Facebook,Instagram) pages with weight-related comments and explicit body type images of unknown peers impacts personal weight concerns and future behaviors?I hypothesized that individuals who are more active on social media will compare themselves negatively more and be more likely to adapt a change in their exercise and eating habits. This demonstrates the pressures that society puts on adolescents. Being obese and overweight has so many negative connotations that these individuals are often stigmatized with being lazy or worthless. By reducing this stigma through the mass media platform and educating others about the dangers, eating disorders can be reduced and possibly prevented.

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