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Instagram use is linked to increased symptoms of orthorexia nervosa

Turner, PG; Lefevre, CE; (2017) Instagram use is linked to increased symptoms of orthorexia nervosa. Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity 10.1007/s40519-017-0364-2. (In press). Green open access

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PURPOSE: Social media use is ever increasing amongst young adults and has previously been shown to have negative effects on body image, depression, social comparison, and disordered eating. One eating disorder of interest in this context is orthorexia nervosa, an obsession with eating healthily. High orthorexia nervosa prevalence has been found in populations who take an active interest in their health and body and is frequently comorbid with anorexia nervosa. Here, we investigate links between social media use, in particularly Instagram and orthorexia nervosa symptoms. METHODS: We conducted an online survey of social media users (N = 680) following health food accounts. We assessed their social media use, eating behaviours, and orthorexia nervosa symptoms using the ORTO-15 inventory. RESULTS: Higher Instagram use was associated with a greater tendency towards orthorexia nervosa, with no other social media channel having this effect. In exploratory analyses Twitter showed a small positive association with orthorexia symptoms. BMI and age had no association with orthorexia nervosa. The prevalence of orthorexia nervosa among the study population was 49%, which is significantly higher than the general population (<1%). CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that the healthy eating community on Instagram has a high prevalence of orthorexia symptoms, with higher Instagram use being linked to increased symptoms. These findings highlight the implications social media can have on psychological wellbeing, and the influence social media 'celebrities' may have over hundreds of thousands of individuals. These results may also have clinical implications for eating disorder development and recovery.

Type: Article
Title: Instagram use is linked to increased symptoms of orthorexia nervosa
Location: Germany
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s40519-017-0364-2
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-017-0364-2
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Eating disorder, Instagram, Orthorexia nervosa, Social media
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1544192
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