Social media use and disordered eating in young adolescents


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • Univadis Medical News
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New research suggests that social media (SM), particularly platforms with a strong focus on image posting, is associated with disordered eating (DE) in young adolescents.

In the study, published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, researchers examined data on 996 adolescents in Australia (M age=13.08 years).

They found that 51.7 per cent of girls and 45 per cent of boys reported behaviours related to DE, with strict exercise and meal skipping being the most common.

A total of 75.4 per cent of girls and 69.9 per cent of boys had at least one SM account. Instagram was the most common. A greater number of SM accounts and greater daily time spent using them were associated with a higher likelihood of DE thoughts and behaviours.

While a range of studies have focused on the impact of SM on body image, this is the first to examine the relationship between specific SM platforms and DE behaviours and thoughts.

Lead author, Simon Wilksch said: “To find these clear associations between DE and SM use in young adolescent girls and boys suggests that much more needs to be done to increase resilience in young people to become less adversely impacted by social media pressures.”