This blog has addressed how social media use in teens and young adults can lead to issues with depression, anxiety, and self-esteem. Another area impacted by social media is body image and disordered eating. Disordered eating is any type of eating behavior that falls outside of the norm of what is considered healthy. This can include excessing dieting or restricting food, preoccupation with food and calories, rigid routines and rituals around eating, binge-eating, and using exercise or purging to “make up for” calories consumed. These eating behaviors can have a serious impact on one’s physical health and can lead to the development of a clinically significant eating disorder.
As is commonly known, social media is filled with images, many of which include celebrities and individuals who meet the culturally-established (but unrealistic) ideals of beauty. A new study has found that approximately half of 7th and 8th grade girls and boys engage in disordered eating behaviors. Strict exercise and skipping meals were the most common behaviors reported. Nearly three-fourths of teens had at least one social media account, and it was found that most types of accounts were associated with a greater number of disordered eating behaviors. The more types of social media accounts a teen has, the more likely they are to have distorted ideas about eating and engage in unhealthy eating behaviors. Instagram, a photo-based platform, was associated with the most disordered eating.