Social Media and Eating Disorders: What’s the Connection?
Social media has changed the way we connect with each other and the way we think about ourselves. The number of people using these platforms has skyrocketed in recent years and society is only now beginning to understand its negative effect on body image. While there is no single cause of eating disorders, researchers have […]

Social media has changed the way we connect with each other and the way we think about ourselves. The number of people using these platforms has skyrocketed in recent years and society is only now beginning to understand its negative effect on body image. While there is no single cause of eating disorders, researchers have found strong links between the use of social media and the development of eating disorders.

Eating disorders are a major public health problem and can lead to serious long-term health problems, including heart failure, neurological damage, and gastroparesis. Unfortunately, data shows that the number of cases of eating disorders is on the rise, especially among adolescents. 69% of children now have their own smartphone at the age of 12 and 72% of adolescents now use social networks on a daily basis. It is only recently that studies have started to examine the impact of these platforms on an individual's self-concept.

Since humans are inherently social creatures, the appeal of social media is clear. While these platforms provide plenty of opportunities for new connections and interactions, they also allow for frantic social comparison. Popular culture promotes a particular type of appearance as “ideal,” which currently focuses on being thin. Before social media, people might have seen this standard on TV or in magazines, but now they have the ability to actively engage in a social context.

Social media has a highly interactive format and encourages connection, not only with friends and peers, but also with various celebrities, models and brands. It feels a lot more personal and gives the illusion that the user is less emotionally separated from the people they admire or aspires to emulate. Thus, these platforms have the potential to create a deeper emotional impact on their users that they may not know.

While there are many positive aspects to these platforms, there is also the potential for significant damage. With its interactive format, social media provides a constant and active space to engage in social comparison. With the photo and video editing features, beauty standards become more and more unrealistic and can easily lead to serious body dissatisfaction. Young people, especially women, have been shown to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of social media.

Adolescents, "tweens" (children ages 8 to 12) and young adults experience a period of many bodily and developmental changes as they try to understand who they are. At this point, they are wired to be more absorbed in their social relationships and they are more likely to internalize the feedback they receive from their surroundings when trying to form their own identity. In addition, the parts of the brain responsible for reasoning and decision-making are not yet fully developed, which can increase the risk of mistaking perfectly edited photos or videos on social media for real reality. Not only do these factors combined increase the risk of negative body image, but also the risk of developing anxiety and depression.

When examining this phenomenon, a study found that having even one social media account was associated with a thinner ideal int

Outsourcing, body monitoring and lean research in a large sample of adolescent girls. Additionally, a higher number of friends or followers and more time spent on social media platforms correlated with a higher level of body dissatisfaction. Other studies found that those who consistently used social media were more likely to have a negative body image and engage in disorderly eating behaviors such as restricting food and compulsive exercise. Overall, research has consistently shown that there is a strong link between the development of an eating disorder and the use of social media.

While there are several factors that determine whether a person develops an eating disorder, research shows that using social media increases risk, especially among teens. That doesn't mean you should never use social media. However, it does mean that you need to be aware of how this can affect your own self-image and self-esteem in order to avoid this damage.

Disordered eating behaviors often go hand in hand with anxiety. If you've been feeling unusually stressed or anxious lately, check out this post to find out how NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center neurofeedback can help you! To make an appointment, click here or write to us at

This blog was written by Lizzie Lewis and edited by Dr Majid Fotuhi.

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You’ll get benefit more by doing these games a little bit every day. Spend 15 minutes or so, not hours.

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