Exploring the relationships among physical activity, social media use, and eating behaviours
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According to the tripartite influence model of disordered eating, individuals develop disordered eating behaviours because they feel pressured by social agents to conform to appearance ideals, they engage in social comparison, and then they internalize these ideals (Thompson et al., 1999). This theory will be used to examine orthorexia nervosa (ON) development. ON is a pathological obsession with healthy eating (Bratman, 1997). Appearance ideals that are common in Western culture include thin and muscular ideals, which are spread through the use of fitspiration on social media and are displayed in aesthetic sports like body building. Fitspiration is the combination of fitness and inspiration and exists to motivate people to exercise and eat healthy (Marshall et al., 2019). In this study the potential for various aspects related to social media use and sport participation to serve as predictors for the development of ON were investigated. Based on the tripartite model of influence it was predicted that societal and interpersonal aspects of appearance ideals, frequent social media use, participation in aesthetic sports, frequent exercise, and a high drive for muscularity predict an individual’s ON risk. This investigation consisted of an online questionnaire of 404 participants recruited by various means. The participants were asked to respond to questions in order to assess their social media use, ON risk, internalization of popular media, drive for muscularity, participation in sports, and intensity of physical activity. A backwards regression analysis indicated that thin/low body fat ideals, muscular/athletic body ideals, and frequency of VSCO use predicted a greater risk for the development of ON, while frequency of Facebook use predicted less risk. Finally, participation in aesthetic and/or weight based sports may be related to the development of ON.