Aim To examine whether Socialmedia is the principal factor which contributes towards anorexia or is it otherfactors such as environment.
Hypothesis The hypothesis of this research project is that social media has agreat impact on the rise of anorexia within the UK. This is because growinglevels of young people are using social media. Rationale Anorexia is a complex mental disorder where severe emotionaldistress is expressed via disordered behavior involving food restriction.Anorexia causes extremely dangerous health related problems such as infertility,hair loss, kidney and liver damage, irregular heartbeats and some extreme caseseven leading to death (NHS, 2016). Over 1.6 million people in the UK are estimated to be directlyaffected by eating disorders and a staggering 1 in 250 women will experienceanorexia at some point within their lives, (Beat Eating Disorders, 2016). Abasic 12-week specialist in-patient course of treatment on the NHS costs about£25,000 (BBC News, 2003).
In 2015 The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, announcedgovernment funding of £150m for young people with eating disorders and acommitment to bring in waiting-time for treatment, (The Independent, 2015).Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia cost the country more than £15bna year in 2016yet it is still on the rise (The Independent, 2015). The research project that isgoing to be carried out will be focusing on eating disorders, anorexia becausethere is a growing percentage of eating disorders in the UK, and it is stillrising each year. Most recent figures January 2014 reveal that there was anational rise of 8 per cent in the number of admissions to hospital for aneating disorder in the 12 months previous to October 2013, (Anorexia andBulimia Care, 2015). In the recent years eating disorders have been a growingtopic within the media. It is costing the NHS a large sum of money, asmentioned before the £15bn figure cited earlier includes not only treatment butto also educate the population, creating awareness to try and reduce the rateof eating disorders overall, causing a strain on the NHS and a rise in pressureto combat anorexia. Social media has effectivelymade its way into every classroom, household, and workplace.
Whether it is usedby children, teenagers, or adults, everyone seems to have a presence in thesocial media world. With a wide range of social media platforms used among allage groups including Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter, it can beincreasingly difficult to escape the pressures and influences of social media.The latest research from Ofcom suggests that almost half of young people agedbetween 8 and 17 have a profile on a social networking site such as Facebook,(Teaching times, 2016).
The power of social networking is such that, thenumberof worldwide users is expected to reach some2.95 billion by 2020, (Statista, 2017). This can be linked with theassumption that the growing rate of eating disorders is also due to the rise inyounger people using social media which includes cyber bullying, theaccessibility to be able to find forums, sites to give tip, tricks andinformation to help with eating disorders and anorexia such as ‘pro ana’websites. The Independent, 2017 suggested that the pro ana websites beingeasily accessible is increasing promotion on anorexia and other eatingdisorders and actions should be in place to block or monitor the use of thesewebsites. Due to the large amount ofsocial media users it is showing a correlation of the increase within anorexiadue to an idea that you must look and be a certain way and the idea of social media validation. Methodology In this research project, thesecondary sources have been examined and compared to a range of others throughaddressing and evaluating in as much detail as possible.
The sources have beendetermined by how reliable the data is, where the sources and statistics camefrom originally and considering how ethical the collection of data was and ifit will be ethical to use within the research project. When choosing thesources used subjectivity was taking into consideration, as this could affectthe research topic as these results could be biased and affect the overallresults. For example, metro.co.uk 2017, where an article proposes the fact thatsocial media is forcing girls to starve themselves, however within the articlethere is no factual basis supporting the supposed proposal therefore the sourcemust be considered as biased.
However, the metro article,although containing no factual basis, can be useful as it gives the researcheran understanding of what opinions some people may hold. To counterbalance outthe use of the metro article there is also a variety of unbiased reliablesources found via factual articles, books and also published data available.Furthermore, taking a range of quantitative data and qualitative data will beused to also take into consideration other factors that could influence therise in anorexia. For example, statistics used from the NHS 2017 yearly report;this information is collected fairly, confidentially and also accurately, andalso a newspaper article about the links between social media and anorexiapublished by The Telegraph 2015.
This has useful up-to date links and explainsin depth the links of social media and its potential influence, this displaysthe positives towards social media and how it could help reduce eating disorders,However, due to this article being a media article it could be considererbiased based on the author’s own opinion. Anorexia can be quite a sensitive topic, in order tofind valid research for this project it must be ethical. It must be taking intoconsideration where this information has come from in the first place and howthey meet the ethical guidelines. For example, the NHS statistics have beencollected sensitively by collected data anonymously to be published online alsothrough volunteering questionnaires also giving consent for their data to bepublished.
Therefore, not forcing people to give information if they don’t feelcomfortable. The NHS will make sure no onewas put in harm when collecting data and due to this being a sensitive topicwill make sure help will be in place if it is required after the data iscollected. As the NHS They support important social and moral values, such as theprinciple of doing no harm to others so to keep it this way they publish thedata confidentially.
Source analysis On one hand there is a wide range of sources thatsupport the hypothesis, this is seen through the article on The Independent, (2017),where it was declared that researchers conducted content analysis on 734 images posted undersuggestive hashtags such as bonespiration, thinspiration. The accounts featureselfies taken by girls who want to show off their emaciated bodies byhighlighting their protruding hip bones, spines and collar bones. This iscausing a rise in young girls being self-conscious, by seeing theseunattainable photographs girls feel they must be the same. Therefore, whengoing online to find advice on how to be like these people, they access irresponsibleand dangerous websites such as the ‘pro ana’ websites. This is where people areseen to bully others into starving themselves, or provide information on thebest ways to purge (make themselves sick), starve themselves and also how tohide your habits from superiors. The number of children andteenagers seeking help for an eating disorder has risen by 110 per cent in thepast three years, according to figures given exclusively to TheIndependent, (2014). ChildLine says it received more than 10,500calls and online inquiries from young people struggling with food andweight-related anxiety in the last financial year. The charity believes thisdramatic increase could be attributed to several factors, including theincreased pressure caused by social media, the growth of celebrity culture, andthe rise of anorexia websites.
Many girls talkedabout the concerns they had about their body image and how they disliked theway they looked. They also mentioned how they compared themselves negativelywith peers and celebrities. In more than 20 per cent of counselling sessionsabout eating problems with girls, they talked about their body image orself-esteem. The nature of social media placeshuge pressures on our children and young people which in turn can lead tosignificant emotional issues. And society is increasingly bombarded withcelebrities and airbrushed images which give an impossible view of what’beautiful’ is. Another article also from The Independent, (2015), suggests thatdue to websites such as ‘pro ana’ are easily accessible, it is allowing a largenumber of young girls to discover these and also the peer pressure that goesalong with them. It is also showing girls unattainable images of what perfectis and what they should look like in order to be this way this in turn causes alarge proportion of young girls to start dieting which can then fuel morepressure and can lead to anorexia.
Metro, (2016) supports this article as itcontains factual basis, it proposes that an eating disorder therapist revealedup to 60% of people who had been referred to her were negatively affected bysites like Twitter and Instagram. ‘We can happily assume a lot of these arebeing influenced by social media and the input from social media,’ Dr Varmasaid Metro, (2016). However, to reduce growing rates of anorexia in youngergirls; Instagram recently took the step ofstopping search words such as “thinspiration” that could direct usersto results related to eating disorders. Instead users are shown this warning:”Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices, they are mental disordersthat if left untreated can cause serious health problems or could even belife-threatening”. Although there are sources as discussed above that support thehypothesis, there are many more that disagree and believe that there are otherfactors that more importantly contribute to anorexia.
The telegraph, (2017) carriedout a study to compare the genetic code of 3,400 people with anorexia andcompared their genetic code to people without the disorder. The results foundthat in more than half of anorexia cases they found faulty genes, which arelinked to neuroticism, schizophrenia and metabolism, thus showing there couldbe sign that anorexia is within genetics. Additionally, the Daily Mail (2017),reported that the University of North Carolina hasidentified the first genetic locus (the position on a chromosome) for anorexianervosa. The study, which is the most powerful geneticstudy of anorexia nervosa conducted to date, included genome-wide analysis ofDNA from 3,495 individuals with anorexia nervosa and 10,982 unaffectedindividuals.
They discovered that a fault on the chromosome means some peoplemay be more likely to have anorexia. Healthy place (N.D), have discussed a range of causes that couldpotentially play an important role in eating disorders. They stated thatbiological causes is believed to play a major role in within anorexia, this isdown to abnormalities in the chemical messengers which can cause people withanorexia to have difficulty experiencing pleasure from food.
They alsodiscussed the idea that life transitions could be a potential cause, such asthe ending of a relationship, the death of a loved one or increased stress;this could be down to school life, home life or work life. Several studies have identifiedsociocultural factors within American society that are associated with thedevelopment of eating disorders. Traditionally, eating disorders have beenassociated with Caucasian upper-socioeconomic groups.
It has also beenhypothesized that thinness is gaining more value within the African-Americanculture, just as it has in the Caucasian culture. Additionally, a recent studyof early adolescent girls found that Hispanic and Asian-American girls showedgreater body dissatisfaction than white girls (Robinson et al., 1996). 600 children under the age of 13have been treated in hospital in England for eating disorders in the past threeyears, NHS (2015).
The real problem is not “size zero”. The realproblem is that we live in a neurotic, miserable society with a deeplydisturbed attitude to food, nurture and consumption, a society which teacheschildren, and particularly girls, that their growing bodies and normal desiresare unacceptable and must be starved away.