Eating disorders and social networks
The nutrition boom, together with the proliferation of messages through social networks, the use of filters and touch-ups to reduce centimeters from the body and social pressure on body image, has triggered an increase in risky behaviors and age of onset of Eating Disorders (EDs)
Eating disorders (EDs) have become one of the mental health problems that have increased the most in recent years.
In Spain, according to data from the Spanish Society of General and Family Physicians (SEMG), there is a prevalence of between 4.1% and 6.4% in young women between 12 and 21 years of age and it has a clear female profile: 9 out of 10 people with these disorders are women.
And the pandemic has only aggravated the problem. As a result of the confinement, TCA cases have increased by 20%, according to figures from Fita’s Foundation. There is also concern about the increasingly younger age at which these disorders are manifested.
The greater time of exposure to technologies and social networks during confinement and the impact of the pandemic on mental health, especially of adolescents, are some of the reasons that explain this increase.
The dissatisfaction with the personal image and the desire to change it, is usually one of the symptoms that these eating disorders show, however, they are problems whose origins are multifactorial (emotional, personal, family, sociocultural, etc.) and have numerous causes, underlying factors that make the intervention complex and not limited exclusively to the symptom detected.
In general, eating behaviour disorders are usually related to many different variables, among them, we find, personal characteristics of the individual, emotional regulation capacity, self-concept, family and social environment. However, the digital world encourages to a certain extent the proliferation of these disorders, in particular, among young people who show special vulnerability. Social networks act as an important precipitating and risk factor for the appearance of these problems. Above all, in the stage of adolescence, in which our adolescents are very focused on seeking the acceptance and admiration of their peer group. In this way, they will try to imitate the unreal beauty canons that set trends in the networks.
When we refer to eating behaviour disorders, we usually associate them with diseases such as anorexia or bulimia, but there are other types of disorders related to eating, for example, vigorexia or orthorexia, pathologies that have also been incited by the social networks and the fitness movement that accumulates millions of followers.
Behaviours such as intermittent fasting in people with a certain psychological predisposition can trigger eating disorders, so it is recommended that these activities should be carried out by a nutritional professional who monitors them.
These types of behaviours and disorders also have very negative effects on digestive health, which can range from hormonal changes or intestinal conditions to malnutrition and even death in the most severe cases.