Female Facebook Users Prone to Eating Disorders

Author: University of Haifa
Published: 2011/02/07 - Updated: 2022/06/15
Contents: Summary - Main - Related Publications

Synopsis: The more time adolescent girls spend on Facebook, the more their chances of developing a negative body image and various eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, and exaggerated dieting. The results showed that the more time girls spend on Facebook, the more they suffer conditions of bulimia, anorexia, physical dissatisfaction, negative physical self-image, negative approach to eating, and more of an urge to be on a weight-loss diet. Extensive online exposure to fashion and music content showed similar tendencies but manifested in fewer types of eating disorders. As such, the more the exposure to fashion content on the Internet, the higher a girl's chances of developing anorexia.

Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are serious, biologically influenced medical illnesses marked by severe disturbances to one's eating behaviors. The DSM-5 lists eating disorders as "Feeding & Eating Disorders" and describes that they are "characterized by a persistent disturbance of eating or eating-related behavior that results in the altered consumption or absorption of food that significantly impairs physical health or psychosocial functioning." An eating disorder can affect a person's physical and mental health. In some cases, they can be life-threatening. Types of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, other specified feeding and eating disorder, pica, and rumination disorder. With treatment, however, people can recover completely from eating disorders.

Main Digest

Eating disorders include a broad spectrum of abnormal mental and behavioral conducts related to food and body weight, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. This study, conducted by Prof. Yael Latzer, Prof. Ruth Katz, and Zohar Spivak of the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences at the University of Haifa, set out to examine the effects of two factors on the development of eating disorders in young girls: exposure to the media and self-empowerment.

A group of 248 girls aged 12-19 (average age: 14.8) took part in the survey. These girls were asked to provide information on their Internet and television viewing habits. Regarding the latter, they were asked to give the number of popular shows related to extreme standards of physical image (the "Barbie" model) that they watched.

The girls also filled out questionnaires that examined their approach to slimming, bulimia, physical satisfaction or dissatisfaction, their general outlook on eating, and their sense of personal empowerment.

The results showed that the more time girls spend on Facebook, the more they suffer conditions of bulimia, anorexia, physical dissatisfaction, negative physical self-image, negative approach to eating, and more of an urge to be on a weight-loss diet.

Extensive online exposure to fashion and music content showed similar tendencies but manifested in fewer types of eating disorders. As such, the more the exposure to fashion content on the Internet, the higher a girl's chances of developing anorexia.

A similar direct link was found between viewing gossip- and leisure-related television programs (the likes of "Gossip Girl") and eating disorders in adolescent girls. The study also revealed that these girls' level of personal empowerment is negatively linked to eating disorders. The higher the level of empowerment, the more positive the physical self-image and the lower the chances of developing an eating disorder.

In this study, exposure to the media and a powerful sense of personal empowerment was associated with parenting practices. Girls whose parents were involved in their media usage; who knew what they were viewing and reading and where they were surfing on the web; who watched, surfed, or read along with them; and who conducted cooperative and critical discussions with their daughters about the content of their surfing habits, showed more personal empowerment, forming a protective shield against eating disorders.

On the other hand, parents who were not involved in their media exposure were unaware of the content that their daughters were consuming. Instead of sharing and becoming familiar with that content, they limited or prohibited exposure, which led to lower self-empowerment in their daughters. This, in turn, has a positive link to various eating problems and negative body image.

"Significant potential for future research and application of eating disorder prevention lies in an understanding of how parenting decisions can have an effect on an adolescent girl's sense of empowerment and that enforcing a girl's sense of empowerment is a means to strengthening body image. This study has shown that a parent can potentially prevent dangerous behavioral disorders and negative eating behavior in particular," the researchers stated.

Attribution/Source(s):

This quality-reviewed publication pertaining to our Eating Disorders section was selected for circulation by the editors of Disabled World due to its likely interest to our disability community readers. Though the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article "Female Facebook Users Prone to Eating Disorders" was originally written by University of Haifa, and submitted for publishing on 2011/02/07 (Edit Update: 2022/06/15). Should you require further information or clarification, University of Haifa can be contacted at the haifa.ac.il/?lang=en website. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.

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Cite This Page (APA): University of Haifa. (2011, February 7). Female Facebook Users Prone to Eating Disorders. Disabled World. Retrieved April 14, 2024 from www.disabled-world.com/health/eating-disorders/facebook.php

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