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Infographic - Social Media, Body Image and Food Choices in Healthy Young Adults: A Mixed Methods Systematic Review

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posted on 15.10.2020 by Kim Rounsefell, Simone Gibson, Siân McLean, Merran Blair, Annika Molenaar, Linda Brennan, Helen Truby, Tracy McCaffrey
Infographic of 'Social Media, Body Image and Food Choices in Healthy Young Adults: A Mixed Methods Systematic Review' publication. A link to the journal article is found below (Rounsefell et al, 2019, DOI 10.1111/1747-0080.12581).

Abstract
Aim
Negative body image increases the risk of engaging in unhealthy dieting and disordered eating patterns. This review evaluated the impact of habitual social media engagement or exposure to image-related content on body image and food choices in healthy young adults (18-30 years).

Methods
A systematic search of six databases of observational literature published 2005-2019, was conducted (PROSPERO Registration No. CRD42016036588). Inclusion criteria were: studies reporting social media engagement (posting, liking, commenting) or exposure to image-related content in healthy young adults. Outcomes were: body image (satisfaction or dissatisfaction) and food choices (healthy eating, dieting/restricting, overeating/binging). Two authors independently screened, coded and evaluated studies for methodological quality.

Results
Thirty studies were identified (n = 11125 participants). Quantitative analysis (n = 26) identified social media engagement or exposure to image-related content was associated with higher body dissatisfaction, dieting/restricting food, overeating, and choosing healthy foods. Qualitative analysis (n = 4) identified five themes: (i) social media encourages comparison between users, (ii) comparisons heighten feelings about the body, (iii) young adults modify their appearance to portray a perceived ideal image, (iv) young adults are aware of social media's impact on body image and food choices, however, (v) external validation via social media is pursued. Most studies (n = 17) controlled for some confounding variables (age, gender, BMI, ethnicity).

Conclusions
Social media engagement or exposure to image-related content may negatively impact body image and food choice in some healthy young adults. Health professionals designing social media campaigns for young adults should consider image-related content, to not heighten body dissatisfaction.

Funding

Communicating health: optimising engagement and retention using social media

National Health and Medical Research Council

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