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Facebook Can Make you Fat, Researchers Explain How

Update Date: Dec 25, 2012 09:36 AM EST

A new research suggests that using social networking sites such as Facebook can make you fat. Not because of inactivity but scientists claim that people who socialize regularly on Facebook and other networking suites may have higher levels of self-esteem but lack self-control.  

This implies that they are more likely to snack on unhealthy food soon after logging off, especially if they have been chatting with people close to them.

According to the researchers from Columbia University and the University of Pittsburgh, this could be the reason why an increasing number of people are putting on weight rather than the theory that networking sites encourage users to be sedentary.

"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 authors wrote in the Journal of Consumer Research.

For the study, the researchers conducted five experiments on the behavior of Facebook users to see how it affected them when they were offline, Mail Online reported.

The findings revealed that the usage of networking sites and poor self-control over what they ate and how much money they spent was related.

The study revealed that people who contacted their close friends through Facebook were more likely to binge eat. These people were also more likely to have higher credit card debt. However, this wasn't the case with people who spoke to people they had "weaker ties" with, the report said.

Facebook is currently used by about one in 7 people in the world.

"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 were quoted as saying by Mail Online.

"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."

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