Making Friends Can Make You Fat

 New research shows that making and interacting with friends through social media can have the unwanted effect of making you fatter.

A new study conducted by researchers at the Columbia Business School and the University of Pittsburgh, to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research in June of 2013, has found that along with making some new friends, being active on Facebook could also make you fat because the act of online socializing not only raises your self-esteem, it can also increase your waistline as it decreases your level of self-control. It seems like nearly every human activity imaginable can be affected by Facebook these days, and what started out as a place to make new friends has turned into a place where monitoring your close friends’ activities on the social media network is also related to things like higher levels of credit card debt and a correspondingly higher body-mass index too. 

It turns out that the research showed that having an increasing number of close social connections can also have the effect of increasing a person’s self-esteem, and an overly-confident person with too much self-esteem may also experience the unwanted side effect of letting their guard down a bit too much and they can temporarily lose a bit of self-control in the process too. For anyone trying to lose weight or maintain a diet, it looks like Facebook can present a few problems along with the act of helping people make more new friends. The study found that Facebook users who were in contact with close friends online were far more prone to eating snacks after they spent time on the social networking website.

The research was conducted through five different studies and Andrew T. Stephen, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh and a co-author of the study, said "We found this in a variety of settings, ranging from healthy versus unhealthy food choices, to how long people persisted at a challenging task. We also found broader evidence of this in two really important contexts where self control matters a lot: health and personal finances." What surprised the research team the most was how little time was required to be psychologically affected because the effects were found to be present after just five minutes of browsing on Facebook.

It seems people are learning new things about how social media impacts its’ users every day, but the study’s findings don’t necessarily mean you have to limit your friends in order to limit your waistline, and instead show that users should simply be more aware of any potentially negative consequences.


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