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Tweeting your weight loss? Is there a link between microblogging and eating disorders?

In a new open access article for Cogent Social Sciences; Mobile Exercising and Tweeting the Pounds Away: The Use of Digital Applications and Microblogging and their Association with Disordered Eating and Compulsive Exercise, researchers from Georgia College & State University, and Chapman University explore the relationship between social media, eating disorders, and compulsive exercise.

Social media is saturated with messages encouraging people to eat healthily and take plenty of exercise, but these messages exacerbate the effects of an eating disorder. The study set out to examine different types of online communities and activities, including blogging, microblogging and using mobile apps to monitor diet and exercise.

‘Plenty of previous work has documented the ways in which young people can be particularly vulnerable to the effects of media use in this area of body image,’ said Veronica Hefner, Georgia College & State University, one of the authors of the paper. ‘But it seems from our study that “fitspiration” content is specifically related to risky behaviors like compulsive exercise and eating disorder symptoms, especially among those young people who use mobile apps on a frequent basis.’

Article: Mobile exercising and tweeting the pounds away: The use of digital applications and microblogging and their association with disordered eating and compulsive exercise, Veronica Hefner et al., Cogent Social Sciences, doi: 10.1080/23311886.2016.1176304, published 28 April 2016.