Recent reports have found that approximately 91% of adolescents in the U.S. and U.K. use social media. At the same time, over half check their social media accounts at least one time every hour.
So, researchers from the Institute for Global Health, University College of London, decided to investigate the influence that such constant social media use may have on eating pathology and body image concerns among youth.
Alexandra Drane and Komal Bhatia analyzed data collected via 50 studies conducted in 17 countries that included young people between the ages of 10 and 24. All of these studies focused on social media exposure’s impacts on mental and physical health outcomes.
Eating disorders are one particular concern among youth. And with so much social media interaction in modern childhood, these health risks may have generational impacts.
So, the researchers believe that understanding the contributing pathology would enable parents, educators, researchers, healthcare professionals, and policymakers to proactively deploy and use preventative resources.
Their study, which was recently published in PLOS Global Public Health, concluded that social media usage could lead to poor mental health, body image concerns, disordered eating, and eating disorders.
It was found that the frequency and time spent consuming pro-eating disorder content, social media trends, appearance-focused platforms, and appearance-related activities only strengthened this negative relationship.
Additionally, being female, having a high body mass index (BMI), and having pre-existing body image concerns contributed to the relationship.
On the other hand, having strong social media literacy and high body appreciation were found to protect against adverse consequences of social media use.