‘Fitspirational’ Instagrams Could Contribute to Eating Disorders
Those “fitspiration” social media accounts could be doing you more harm than good.
Researchers at Georgia University examined data from 262 participants that polled their eating and exercise habits, as well as their relationship to online media accounts that the study characterized as “fitspiration.” These would generally refer to “posts usually in the form of a short quote and image encouraging people to push themselves as hard as possible during exercise, in order to attain their (usually aesthetic) fitness goals.”
Those who engaged more with the social media accounts also tended to have more disordered eating habits, such as binging, purging, and starving, as well as compulsive and unhealthy exercise behaviors.
Another article in the Telegraph discussed the rise in young women admitted to Priory’s Roehampton hospital in London for eating disorders. From 2010 to 2014, the number of 13-19 year olds admitted to the hospital nearly doubled from under 1,000 to more than 1,800.
“We spend a lot of time in patient groups urging people to be more critical of the food authors they are reading, because those promoting their lifestyles on social media – who are often sponsored by the products they are using – don’t appear to be invested in the long-term effects they are having,” says Alexia Dempsey, an eating disorder specialist at the hospital said.
It’s only Memorial Day Weekend, and I’ve already heard an alarming number of my beautiful friends express their anxiety about wearing bathing suits this summer. It’s (unfortunately) normal to hear girls express themselves like this, but are we all getting a little too carried away with criticizing our bodies?
The studies do show a correlation — not a causation — between fitspo and eating disorders, which means we don’t know enough yet to say whether fitspirational accounts necessarily cause eating disorders or not, but the rise in numbers paints a scary picture.
Either way, play it safe this weekend and hit “unfollow” on that squat-spo account.