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Facebook use may up risk of eating disorders, low self-esteem

London, Mon, 02 Apr 2012 ANI

London, April 2 (ANI): Spending time on Facebook could be harmful for your health.

A new study has found that some users feel bad about themselves after looking at Facebook photos of their friends.

Fifty-one percent of the Facebook users surveyed said they felt more self conscious about their bodies after seeing photos of themselves on the social network, according to The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt.

"Facebook is making it easier for people to spend more time and energy criticizing their own bodies and wishing they looked like someone else," the Daily Mail quoted the Center's Director, Dr. Harry Brandt, as saying in the report.

"In this age of modern technology and constant access to SmartPhones and the internet, it's becoming increasingly difficult for people to remove themselves from images and other triggers that promote negative body image, low self-esteem and may ultimately contribute to eating disorders," Brandt said.

Eighty percent of those surveyed said they logged into Facebook "at least once a day," making it nearly impossible to avoid encountering photos of themselves and their friends.

That level of exposure proved damaging for a significant chunk of the users surveyed: 44 percent said they wished they had the same body or weight as a friend when looking at the photos, and 32 percent admitted feeling "sad when comparing Facebook photos of themselves to their friend's photos."

Thirty-seven percent said they also felt the need to "change specific parts of their body when comparing their bodies to friends' bodies in photos."

The findings suggest that time spent looking at photos on Facebook may lead people to obsess about their weight in ways that could prove dangerous.

"As people spend more time thinking about what's wrong with their bodies, less time is spent on the positive realm and engaging in life in meaningful and fulfilling ways," Dr. Steven Crawford, the Center's associate director, said in the report.

"When people become more concerned with the image they project online and less concerned with holistic markers of health in real life, their body image may suffer and they may even turn, or return, to harmful fad diets or dangerous weight-control behaviors."

The study sampled 600 American Facebook users between the ages of 16 and 40. (ANI)

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