Eating disorders include anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia and other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED). Eating disorders and other mental health conditions are a complex issue that affects all genders. Symptoms include excessive preoccupation with body image, weight, shape or a discrepancy between self-perception. Social media can pose real potential harm. Most of us will only post positive content online or create an image which portrays us in the best possible way. Also, we can now use filters and apps which easily allow us to alter our appearance to create a different version of ourselves – ‘perfection’. 

Currently, the Influencer lifestyle focuses on fashion, ‘#fitspiration’ and general gym posts on social media.  Instagram has recently introduced measures to remove specific hashtags which are harmful from its social media channel by warning users before posting online. 

Dr Sekar (BSC, MRCPsych), Consultant Psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital Chelmsford, Essex, warned of the heavy influence of social media on those suffering from mental health conditions.  The popularity of ‘thinspiration’ on Instagram risks fuelling eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa, and could cause relapses with those vulnerable. The risk was highest among people who regularly follow these hashtags or post content themselves. 

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