We all love a good scroll through Instagram a few (okay, maybe more than a few) times a day, but what is it really doing to our minds? While it’s perfect for filling us in on the latest glitter eye makeup trends and even for adding a little zen into your life, too much peeking into other people’s seemingly perfect lives can leave you feeling a bit inadequate. And now, there’s proof that that feeling is real, at least in terms of body image.

sad lady on smartphone

New research out of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that increased time spent scrolling through social media is linked to a higher risk of developing eating disorders and body image concerns. Yikes! The researchers surveyed 1,765 people aged 19 to 32, asking them about their use of 11 popular social media sites. Then they cross-referenced those results with another survey that used screening tools to assess the risk of developing an eating disorder. The results? The more time you spend on social media, the higher risk you have, statistically speaking, of developing an unhealthy body image.

“We’ve long known that exposure to traditional forms of media, such as fashion magazines and television, is associated with the development of disordered eating and body image concerns, likely due to the positive portrayal of ‘thin’ models and celebrities,” says lead author Jaime E. Sidani in a release. “Social media combines many of the visual aspects of traditional media with the opportunity for social media users to interact and propagate stereotypes that can lead to eating and body image concerns.”


The researchers say this could be due to a number of factors, including that people tend to put their “best” photos (in this case, the ones where they look thinnest) on social media, and that there’s tons of content on social media that outright encourages problematic eating habits. Whatever the cause, it sounds like a great reason to scale back on the scrolling a bit.

Does social media affect how you view your own body? Tweet us your experiences @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)