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Sheppard Pratt Survey Shows Signs That Facebook Influences Body Image

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Mary Bubala joined WJZ in December 2003. She now anchors the 4-4:30...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Experts on eating disorders are watching a new phenomenon. Facebook may be fueling bad body image. Baltimore’s Sheppard Pratt commissioned the eye-opening survey.

Mary Bubala reports.

Body and weight obsession may have a new venue after working out at the gym. It seems many people are breaking a sweat over how they look on Facebook.

“On Facebook what they are doing is that they are actively comparing their photos to the photos of their friends,” said Dr. Steven Crawford,  associate director of the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt.

Crawford says of the 600 people surveyed ages 16-40, 75 percent are unhappy with their bodies, 51 percent reported that seeing photos of themselves on Facebook makes them more body conscious and 32 percent feel sad comparing Facebook photos of themselves to their friend’s photos.

“Forty-four percent of people feel like they have to be camera ready whenever they go out in a public setting,” Crawford said. “They have to feel comfortable that if their picture ends up getting taken then it will be okay if it ends up being on Facebook.”

Experts recommend testing yourself to see if Facebook is creating a feeding frenzy over your body image. Ask yourself these questions:

How much time do you spend comparing your body to others online?

How often do you publicly criticize your own body?

And do your comments on other people’s photos focus on weight or appearance?

Crawford recommends taking a break from Facebook if you can’t escape feelings of jealousy and sadness.

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