Officials say connection between social media and eating disorders is likely

Officials say connection between social media and eating disorders is likely

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Over the past few years, the conversation regarding both mental health and body image has become more prevalent in society.

Diet culture is a set of beliefs that values weight, shape, appearance and size above health and well-being, according to officials with Hattiesburg Clinic.

Those experts say 20 million women and 10 million men in the U.S. will be impacted by an eating disorder in their lifetime. One age group may be more susceptible.

“Eating disorders usually initiate in an individual’s teenage years or early 20s,” said Jessica Breland, a registered dietitian with Hattiesburg Clinic Weight Management.

Like other mental illnesses, Breland says eating disorders are not developed by one certain thing, but there are some factors that contribute.

“Culture, specifically the desire to be thin and social media’s portrayal of what body size is the perfect or most attractive body size, has an influence on the development of eating disorders,” Breland said.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a Pew Research Center study revealed 97% of 13 to 17-year-olds surveyed used a social media platform in 2018. Because of the high percentage, we’re told the link between diet culture and mental health may affect young age groups more than others.

“I do feel like diet culture through social media affects younger generations more so than older generations, “ Breland said. “And I do feel that connection likely has an effect on eating disorders and the development of those eating disorders.”

If you struggle with disordered eating and are in a crisis situation, you can text “NEDA” to the National Eating Disorder Association’s crisis text line at 741741. For more information on its crisis lines, click here.

Copyright 2021 WDAM. All rights reserved.