Is Facebook making you feel fat?

facebook makes you feel fatOnce upon a time, that photo of you taken at a bad angle in the wrong lighting would have been stuck in a family album and shoved at the back of a cabinet. Or, at the very worst, framed and placed on your mum’s dressing table.

Today, there are no hiding places for bad photographs. Today, bad photographs are published online, by your friends, to an audience of a mere 800 million people.

That place is, of course, social networking site Facebook.

According to the Centre for Eating Disorders in Maryland, USA, more than half of the 600 Facebook users interviewed reported feeling more self-conscious about their bodies and weight after logging into the site.

“People are now constantly aware of their appearance thanks to Facebook,” said Steven Crawford, associate director at the eating disorder centre. “A common reaction is, ‘I need to be thinner’ and it’s that kind of thinking that can lead to hazardous dieting.

Crawford believes Facebook is a big part of the reason why so many people develop eating disorders today. Before Facebook, avoiding our own image was easy- it was simply a case of not looking in the mirror. Now, we are expected to use Facebook for networking at work, keeping in touch with long distance friends and staying up-to-date with upcoming plans. It is becoming increasingly difficult to not be a part of Facebook.

Now it takes just a couple of clicks on the new timeline feature to compare yourself with the younger, slimmer image of you two years ago. According to the American survey, one third of people felt ‘sad’ after looking at pictures of themselves when they were younger, and 44% of users wished they had the same figure as a friend.

Even something as simple as lunch with friends can feel more like a photo-shoot than a social occasion, especially when every member of the group whips out their own camera for a slightly different version of the same photograph.

Finding yourself tagged in a particularly unflattering picture can leave you feeling self-conscious and down. According to Crawford, it can even prevent you from wanting to go out and socialise from fear of finding your face plastered all over the news feed the following morning.

The important thing to remember is not to panic – you are after all probably your biggest critic and other people may not see what you see. The second thing to do is adjust your Facebook settings so friends can no longer tag you in photographs.

If you would like to lose body fat then you are advised to seek help from your GP and a nutritionist. A nutritionist will help you develop a healthy relationship with food so that you can reach your goals safely and sustainably, without crash dieting or putting the weight back on afterwards.

To find out more, please visit our Healthy Eating page. 

View and comment on the original Health Today MSN article. 

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Written by Zoe Thomas

Written by Zoe Thomas

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