"The attention to physical attributes may be even more dangerous on social media than on traditional media because participants in social media are people we know, researchers cautioned."
Washington, April 11 - Are you hooked all the time to Facebook in anticipation of another 'like'? Stop this habit as increased time on Facebook could lead women to negative body images - and possibly eating disorders later.
In a first study to link time spent on Facebook to poor body image, researchers found that more time on Facebook could lead to more negative feelings and more comparisons to bodies of friends.
Health professionals who work in the area of eating disorders and their prevention now have clear evidence of how social media relates to college women's body image and eating disorders.
While time spent on Facebook had no relation to eating disorders, it did predict worse body image among participants, said Petya Eckler from Glasgow-based University of Strathclyde.
To understand this, the researchers surveyed 881 college women about their Facebook use, eating and exercise habits and body image.
They were able to predict how often women felt negatively about their own bodies after looking at someone else's photos or posts, and how often women compared their own bodies to those of their friends.
The findings also showed that more time spent on Facebook was associated with more negative feelings and more comparisons to the bodies of friends, co-author Yusuf Kalyango Jr from Ohio University added.
They also found that for women who want to lose weight, more time on Facebook led to more attention being paid to physical appearance.
This included attention to one's body and clothing.
Poor body image can gradually lead to developing an unhealthy relationship with food.
The attention to physical attributes may be even more dangerous on social media than on traditional media because participants in social media are people we know, researchers cautioned.
The team is scheduled to present its findings at the 64th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in Seattle, Washington.