Anorexia, bulimia, overeating: Social networks ‘could have an aggravating effect’ on eating disorders

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For many, the images of the “perfect body” circulating on social networks can be a source of complexity and suffering, and at times contribute to the emergence of eating disorders.

Have a positive view of your body, and accept yourself as you are. This was the message conveyed at first by the current which is called, in good French, “body positive”. In recent years, this expression has gained momentum to encourage everyone to accept themselves as they are. If the original goal is laudable, it has unfortunately been diverted since it has been taken over by industries that convey the idea that a slim body is perfect to achieve and will make you happy.

However, on social networks, as Valentin Flodias, a lecturer in clinical psychology at the University of Nantes, explains, “This model is used in many publications, especially in the accounts of those so-called influencers. The initial idea is distorted, in the end, you have to To love yourself as you are but above all as you should. He cites the example of an Instagramer who dedicated her account to the sport: “She used the expression ‘body positive’ while encouraging the people who follow her to fight ‘excess fat.'” The movement has taken a balance that causes feelings of guilt. “

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This shift is even more problematic because if social networks are not a sufficient component to trigger eating disorders, studies on the topic tend to show that their use exacerbates and exacerbates these diseases, Valentin Flodias details.

million people

In France, it is estimated today that one million people suffer from anorexia nervosa, bulimia or binge eating disorder, the three eating disorders. However, 50% of these people will not be aware, due to a lack of diagnosis. Hence the desire to increase vigilance about the use of social networks. The idea, according to Valentin Flodias, is to learn how to choose the accounts that really interest us, in other words to learn how to make healthy use of these applications.

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The psychiatrist encourages his patients with eating disorders to step back from social networks by asking themselves the following questions: What accounts do you follow? Which ones are you looking for for fun or mechanically? How much time do you spend on social media each day? Do you think you can cut out 5 minutes per week or per day? The goal is to determine the effects of these applications. Especially since these, as we know, are based on algorithms that deliver content according to what we look at, thus confining the user to certain topics.

As Laure Mesquida, a child psychologist from Toulouse points out, “For many young people with eating disorders, their self-esteem is practically no longer based on the image they have of their bodies. We work with them to understand that “the body has value not only through The picture he sends again.”

Even if people with eating disorders on social networks can find support and re-establish social connections, Valentin Flodias cautions that this can also “preserve the pathology if these patients are identified only by their disorder, which can then lead to to other problems. Whatever the case, he advocates making everyone aware of the use of social networks and their potential effects.


If you think you have ED, feel free to seek help from the National Helpline accessible on 08100370 37 or from an association near you, listed here by the French Federation of Anorexia.

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