publicado em 21/12/2012 às 16h00:00
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Facebook reduces self-control and increase food intake, say researchers

New study suggests that the effect on self-control may be causing more weight gain than sedentary users

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Using Facebook makes you fat - but not for the reason you might think.

Researchers found those who socialised regularly with their friends on the networking website had higher levels of self-esteem but lower levels of self-control.This meant they were more likely to snack on unhealthy food once they had logged off - particularly if they had been chatting with close friends.

The team from Columbia University and the University of Pittsburgh suggested it was this factor that could be driving weight gain rather than by encouraging users to be sedentary.

Writing in the Journal of Consumer Research, they explained: 'Using online social networks can have a positive effect on self-esteem and well-being. However, these increased feelings of self-worth can have a detrimental effect on behaviour.

'Because consumers care about the image they present to close friends, social network use enhances self-esteem in users who are focused on close friends while browsing their social network. This momentary increase in self-esteem leads them to display less self-control after browsing a social network.'

The scientists used five experiments on the behaviour of Facebook users to see how it affected them when they were offline.

The studies suggested there was a link between the use of the website and poor self-control over what they ate and how much money they spent.

Contacting your friends on Facebook can cause a dip in self-control

They found people who used Facebook to contact their friends were more likely to binge eat and be overweight. They also had higher levels of credit card debt.

The same was not true of people who focused on 'weak ties' - people they were less familiar with.

The findings have far-reaching implications as Facebook now has over one billion active users, which is one in seven of the world's population.

'These results are concerning given the increased time people spend using social networks, as well as the worldwide proliferation of access to social networks anywhere anytime via smartphones and other gadgets,' the authors said.

'Given that self-control is important for maintaining social order and personal well-being, this subtle effect could have widespread impact.

'This is particularly true for adolescents and young adults who are the heaviest users of social networks and have grown up using social networks as a normal part of their daily lives.'

   Palavras-chave:   Facebook    Self-control    Self-esteem    Binge eating    Columbia University   
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