Is (Disordered) Social Networking Sites Usage a Risk Factor for Dysfunctional Eating and Exercise Behavior?

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Feb 16;20(4):3484. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20043484.


Background: Research over the past years has shown that exposure to thin and beauty ideals in the media can be associated with disordered eating and related variables. Nowadays, interactive media, such as social networking sites, have gained growing popularity and represent a major part of people's lives. It is therefore crucial to investigate how far users might be negatively influenced by social networking sites regarding eating pathology or excessive exercise behavior and if there are particular links to social media use disorder.

Methods: Data were collected by an online-survey encompassing questions on regular social networking site use, eating disorders, and excessive exercise behavior.

Results: Analyses showed that disordered social networking sites use was significantly related to eating pathology and a poorer body image in men and women. The frequency of active or passive social networking sites usage however was not associated with exercise behavior.

Conclusions: Our results confirm that disordered social networking sites use represents a risk factor for body image dissatisfaction and associated eating disorders.

Keywords: active and passive usage; eating disorder; exercise dependence; social networking sites; social networks use disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Dissatisfaction*
  • Body Image
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Media*
  • Social Networking
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Grants and funding

Funding for this study was provided by the German Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) (Grant Number “ZMVI1-2517FSB804”). BMG had no role in the study design, collection, analysis, or interpretation of the data, writing the manuscript, or the decision to submit the paper for publication.