Is social media leading to eating disorder epidemic?

Social media is again being blamed for a psychic problem. More strongly and more definitively this time. So we did this fact check.

social-media-anoxeriaBefore going into the subject per se, let's be clear that 'eating disorders' we discuss in this context are not related to digestion but the way we eat: eating too much in one sitting, controlling one's eating to stay thin, eating in spurts, eating too much and purging, and so on. These are psychological in nature.

Research finds, social media is raising eating disorders and image concerns

Earlier research had almost proved that people are influenced by what they see on traditional visual media - films and television, advertisements and fashion magazines. A California State University project paper on eating disorders almost sums it up.

But now more and more studies prove that social media is leading to such problems on a large-scale. In addition to showing up stereotype images of thin people, social media amplifies the impact as people now discuss the matter online and compare with friends and others who are much closer to a distant model or film heroine.

A Pittsburgh university study on social media's role in eating disorders finds that irrespective of gender, people are affected by the link between social media and eating and body image concerns.

The study sampled 1765 US adults of 19-32 years. It found that people who spent the most time on social media throughout the day were 2.2 times more prone to eating disorders and body image concerns (i.e. finding dissatisfaction with their bodies and having a negative image about their own bodies) than others. Participants who checked social media frequently throughout the week reported 2.6 times more propensity for such disorders than others.

UK parents worried about teens starving themselves due to social media influence

This article on eating disorders is a commentary on how such disorders are growing in the UK, leading to a jump in the number of teenagers being admitted to hospitals with eating disorders in recent years. 'Thinspiration' websites (that encourage people to become thin) are blamed for hooking girls and young women to become thin and maintain a very thin body. 

In a new form of the disorder, anoxeria or starving to look thin does not express itself in a form of social disorder; one adjusts with being thin and silently invites health problems for oneself. The author of this article, an anoxeric herself before she recovered, says: They glamorize anorexia, they promote photogenic waif-like models and starvation, and ignore the breadth and misery of eating disorders. Anorexia is not photogenic or glamorous, not from the inside. I was anorexic for more than ten years. When I started at Oxford University aged 19, I weighed around nine stone and was happy, healthy and well-adjusted. When I left, aged 21, I weighed around five stone. None of the myths around anorexia applied: I did not dislike my body, and never had done. I did not think I looked fat, or wear skimpy clothes, or even look in the mirror much. I had declared war on myself.

The article warns: Every parent and teacher needs to know that “thinspiration” sites are dangerous. ... Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, more deadly than schizophrenia. One in five anorexics will die, either from physical complications or suicide. With anorexia, these include infertility, amenorrhea (cessation of periods), loneliness and depression; bulimia can lead to kidney and heart problems as well as electrolyte imbalance. Osteoporosis (low bone density) is an invisible but growing problem among young women who avoid calcium-rich dairy products such as milk and cheese – and up to 90 per cent of anorexics show some degree of bone loss.

Weaning youth away from anoxria blogging

This article in the Telegraph, UK, delves into the life of an anorexia blogger, one who writes posts on being thin without taking it as a disorder. Such 'pro-ana' blogs insist that anoxeria is not a disorder but a lifestyle choice.

This US report talks about a victim of social media influence towards anoxeria who was rehabilitated and how empowered she feels after that.

NEDA, a prominent non-profit organization of the US in the area of tackling eating disorders says, The effect of media on women’s body dissatisfaction, thin ideal internalization, and disordered eating appears to be stronger among young adults than children and adolescents. This may suggest that long-term exposure during childhood and adolescence lays the foundation for the negative effects of media during early adulthood.

Another disorder, called orthorexia, seems to be developing - the fad for healthy eating. It becomes a disorder because people do not stop at just eating good food, they feel worried about obesity and their bodies not being perfect, shun all non-healthy food, and exercise too much.

Also relevant:
Facebook reduces well-being? Social media leads to less charity?
Social media causes depression among celebrities?

Feeling exhausted at 70? Start a blog now!

Let's start with some blogging myths:
  • Blogging needs at least some technical knowledge; the more the better.
  • Blogging is for the new generation; oldies are a misfit.
  • Why waste your time when you don't have to promote your CV or career or earn from the blog?
  • Blogging is no longer fashionable. To look modern, open accounts on Snapchat, Vine etc.
  • Nobody reads blogs anymore. It is pass-time for lazy people.
Hope, you do not believe in such myths and already know the value of serious blogging. Perhaps that's why you are here. If you have doubts on that, do tell us and we'd send you some readable posts on email.


Blogging can be highly rewarding at any age. One just needs to change design, content, regularity and targeting of audience according to one's age. If you are not a blogger, you will be surprised to know how blogging at old age can bring you unseen rewards.

Blogging is just right for people who are no hyper-active. Yes, modern social networks, bookmarking sites and chat apps are for young people with lots of physical energy. People whose attention span is going down by the day. People who  are in a race to prove themselves. On the other hand, blogs are eminently suited for mature people who love to read and think. Mind it, blogs are not dull or lazy, and you can also adjust your pace as you like.

Blogging can be a very absorbing, purposeful activity (photo: Pixabay)

If you are lonely, your blog will give you marvelous company. Blogging is a very absorbing avocation. If you are passionate about any subject, you can keep reading and writing about it. You can give expression to all your thoughts, develop your arguments in favor or against a notion, seek others' views... The more you engage yourself, the more absorbing it can be. It will make sure, you don't feel lonely, without work, without a purpose.
Blogging keeps you engaged, it reduces boredom, it gives you a sense of control (as against helplessness). 

If you have not written, composed poetry or painted before, it will let you start afresh. Recall all creative things you wanted to do during your childhood and teen age, family-raising days, busy-in-office days. Perhaps you composed sentimental poems and then you left. You had tried your hand at drawing/ painting/ cartooning, some craft. You were a good essayist/ orator in your school days. Now is the time to check if the flame still flickers in some corner. Perhaps you can startle your family and friends with your re-kindled talent. 

Or perhaps you wanted to try your hand on one of these but could not. If so, do try it now. Blogging can be like a huge canvas where you can keep experimenting till you get the quality that you want to show. The sense of achievement is much more when you climb a hill at 80 than if you climbed it at 18, isn't it?
Blog can by a great platform to share your experiences of a life time. Your experiences could be related to living a full life or as a professional. A grandma's experiences of raising a family... a well-traveled grandfather's hair-raising adventure stories... these could be an enormous treasure that younger generations would cherish. Or people of your age will feel nostalgic about. You could give your progeny a reason to feel proud about their grandpa's achievements. You could even recollect gems from your life and that of your acquaintances and compose a readable autobiography!

Sometimes your experiences could be special in their own ways. Maybe, you played basketball better than others and knew some tricks that today's players in your city don't seem to know. You might have a rare photograph of you standing next to John Kennedy or Gorbachev or Indira Gandhi. Or you could share your rare collection of books through the blog...

Don't undermine your experiences. You have not wasted 60, 70 or 80 years of yours just in eating bread and drinking beer. If nothing else, you'd know some very effective home remedies, an uncanny way of blowing a balloon, a trick to make bathing fun for kids, a handicraft, a contraption, a magic trick... People can learn even from your mistakes if you made them in plenty and document them for others.

Still on sharing your past, you can make the blog a great diary, a great album! Post your rare photographs, post your family tree, post memorable letters written by your mother to you when you got your first job in a different city. Over a period, develop old anecdotes and memories into someone's biography or your autobiography! Why not?

You want to give back to the society but are too frail for public service? Don't lose heart. You can be an online activist. You can join an online group and contribute there. You can, then, link all such activities with your blog. Let the blog be the hub of your sharing and caring work and enjoy seeing smiles of people's faces

Blogging can reduce the pace of age-related degeneration. Young prince Gautam found in his journey towards becoming Lord Budha, that told age was one of the most debilitating part of human life and one that one was destined to suffer. 

One of the basic reasons for helpless among the aged is degeneration of organs and mental faculties. The degeneration, medical science says, gets aggravated when one is depressed or lonely. Keeping oneself engaged not only gives a sensation of being fine, it actually helps in reducing inflammation, chronic pain, metabolic and endocrine imbalances and decay in brain's functioning.

Blogging suits you more than fast social networking sites such as Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram.

You are not expected to be as ebullient as a healthy teen. You don't feel like snapping a selfie all the time. You don't have fiends all around you asking for a trick shot posing as jumping over a tower. You don't jump in a pond just for fun. Remember, you are no longer a teen, not even an adult in his/ her 40s or early 50s. You have slowed down and rightly so. So, you might find many new social media platforms too fast for you. 

Blogging is like a walking machine in which you have all control over speed and slope.


General tips on starting a blog and maintaining it well

These simple tips have been created especially for the elderly, and on the premise that you have access to a computer/ laptop/ wide-screened smartphone and internet.

If so, be ready to create a blog. We'd suggest that you open a blog on Blogger platform. It is free, easily customizable and fun to work on. Your blog is just three steps from here:
  1. Open a GMail account. If you haven't opened one ever, click here, fill up the form there and submit.
  2. On a separate tab/ window on the web browser, type, press Enter on your keyboard and reach Blogger. Choose 'Limited Blogger Profile' for now and give your name. 
  3. Click on 'New Blog' and give the blog a beautiful name. In 'Address', write the web address you want the blog to have. (For example, if we wanted to open a blog with adress, we'd write indiantopblogs there.)Don't bother about 'Template' yet; just click on 'Create Blog' and your blog is ready!
After that, it is a matter of making it beautiful and resourceful. The beauty of this platform is that you can change everything on the blog at any time in future, except its web address. So choose this bit carefully. 

On this link, you can visit detailed tips on improving blog's looks, usability and various other aspects: Subject-wise blogging tips

If you still have a problem, look at the comment box on the column on the right to this article and write to us. We'd happily do the hand-holding.

Some quick tips for blogging by the aged

Don't sit before computer for long as it might lead to backache, pain in fingers, mingled vision etc. You can write posts in many sittings. Just Save after each session; when it is all done, press the Publish button.

Joint blogging is a great idea. Blog with your life-partner, equally aged friend, son or grand-child. 

You can open as many blogs as you like, all free. Or you can have one blog with different posts arranged according to subjects.

If you have problem writing posts, you can use voice-to-text software available on the web free or on payment.  

If you cannot type in your language but can type in English, use Google input tools. These are available online here, or you can download these for offline use. In the post editor in Blogger, there is option to use languages other than English.

Don't hesitate in experimenting with your writing and images on blog posts. Press the Preview button after major changes to see how the post looks. Similarly you can add, delete, modify or change placement of gadgets. Preview them before saving the final version. You can make changes in the Template and undo the changes if you don't like them in the preview plane below the menu carousel. (The only thing you should NOT do if you don't know the computer language called HTML, is 'Edit HLML'.) 

For resources, don't hesitate to use Google search profusely. Read the resources, internalize them and write your own copy; never copy-paste others' content - neither text nor images nor audio-visual clips.

A great post is worth nothing if not promoted

The greatest blogging advice ever given perhaps is to write great content. Google also says that the quality of content matters the most for search rating of a site. In the game of quality and quantity, quality always wins. Full stop.


Though nothing beats quality, promotion is very important. Important because blogging is not like having a diary and hiding it from others. Blogging includes not only composing posts regularly but also writing for others' eyes as much for oneself, engaging with others, sharing content with others... actions that amount to promoting the blog.
Think of a situation when you compose a masterpiece but nobody knows about it. On the other hand, a piece of slightly lesser quality is given a popularity boost so that it is seen by many. Now, this one gets known all over and appreciated. Nobody compares it with the one better than it but not seen. Whosoever likes it promotes it further. What is better?
When you want to earn money from the blog, promotion becomes even more important. In fact, when 'professional' bloggers talk about monetization, they say, blogging is 20% content and 80% promotion!

All good creations need at least a small boost so that they reach a critical level of popularity. Beyond that, quality will take it forward as more people will be sharing it and talking about it.

Promotion also is important to beat competition for attention. Since thousands of new articles are added everyday and thousands more are recycled, each article has fierce competition for eyeballs. Add to it competition from social networks, chat platforms, image and video sharing sites, and myriad apps. Without at least small promotion, a blog article has hardly any chance to get visible.  


You will find thousands of good posts on how to promote your blog just by typing 'blog traffic, promotion'. If you compile the tips, these might run into hundreds - some good, some commonplace, some from experts, some copy-pasted. 

Should you apply all the tips you see on the web? No. You should apply only the ones useful for you. You could say, what is the harm if we use all promotional tools in all cases. Common sense says that whether a type of promotion helps you or not, it will not hurt you. But in reality, that is not the case and that should not be the case. One, you will unnecessarily use your time and energy and possibly money in tools that are not useful for your type of blog. Two, some tips might actually hurt your blog if you apply these mindlessly.

We have seen that even after applying these tips (some of which look too good), most bloggers do not get the desired quantity of traffic; even if traffic surges, it is not relevant. Part of it is that most bloggers do not go into two vital aspects of blog promotion: A. targeting the right audience and reaching it through the right means; and B. maintaining quality and relevance of content

A.Target audience: the people you want to reach your blog

We need targeted traffic to the blog and not just numbers. Targeted traffic can come only through a targeted approach. For example, if your blog is used to inform people about weather of an area or a city's happenings, putting advertisements on global websites or optimizing it for broad keywords such as 'weather' or writing emails to followers across the globe will not only be waste of resources but it will also hurt as your followers in other places might get irritated. 

For very personal blogs, promotion might mean just making it popular among friends, relatives and colleagues. For a blog that is meant to showcase your talent as a techie or some other professional, you might like to promote it among the professional community far and wide. For a blog on your book, you would like to promote it among your fans and potential readers/ buyers. A fashion or food blogger would perhaps want the blog to be popular among women who would appreciate the garments/ trends/ cuisines and either buy your products or buy those advertised on the blog. These are just indicative examples. You will need to analyze who your target visitors are and what action you want from them. 

Use the best conveyance to reach the target audience

Reaching the target audience requires that you know what they are looking for and what are their surfing habits. Do they use search engines? Do they look at their email? Are they active on social networks or bookmarking sites? Do you need to chat them up?

For blogs with a limited target (e.g. friends), the potential readers can be reached directly or through a close-circuit broadcast. Yet, one has to be very disciplined in sending emails or updating one's social network accounts (e.g. Facebook) or broadcasting an update through SMS or chat. 

In most professional/ business blogs, the easiest and most productive means of reaching the target audience is to optimize the blog for search engines. This is called search engine optimization or SEO. 

Let's talk a bit more about SEO. Search engine optimization, of course, is one of the most important ways to promote the blog. It includes all actions you take on the blog [or any other website] so that search engines recognize it as a relevant resource of information or advice or solution that people look for. So, when someone searches for that subject, your website is shown on top of search results.

Genuine SEO experts will not promise you the first ranking on search pages, but will suggest actions that make your website more visible in search results. A huge number of SEO 'experts' have emerged who either do not know the science and craft of SEO or indulge in undesirable practices to get you a very high search ranking for a short time. This is called 'black-hat' SEO and we must avoid it. In the articles given below we have listed desirable or 'white-hat' SEO actions:

Off-page and off-line promotion are often ignored by bloggers. 

All blogs are not amenable to all types of promotion, in the same way all products of human use cannot be promoted in one particular way. As we discussed above, email, SMS and even person-to-person talk are sometimes better means of propagating news than the mass media and social media. So, when you make the strategy to promote your blog, don't ignore these. These are especially useful if you have a personal blog or you write about local matters or your blog addresses a particular social or professional community. 

B. Showcase the best on the blog in the best possible way

Once you know whom you should reach the blog and you have actually reached them, what do you tell them? Here comes the content. At this point, no trick helps you but the quality of content and its relevance to the 'client'.

Quality comes first. For maintaining blog's quality, one must write well-researched posts. It has also been found that long posts give the blog a higher value in the long run. So, have posts of over 900 words now and then, even if you generally write shorter posts. Include one or more images which should ideally help in understanding the subject better. Check grammar and punctuation at least twice before publishing a post. Write short sentences and short paragraphs; break big passages. Give a nice heading and one or more useful sub-headings. You can look at these posts for further guidance on improving quality of content:

Having the best content is one thing and showcasing it is another. We don't send to our beloved friends our most thoughtfully composed invitation inside a torn, dirty and stinking envelope, do we? So is the blog. If the blog is cluttered, its content is not readable or some pop-up keeps irritating the reader, the message is lost. So, give the blog a design that goes well with the subject. If you are interested, please visit these detailed posts:

Relevance is of very high importance. Your blog must be focused on the main theme, even if there are minor distractions now and then. Within the broad subject, focus individual posts on specific specializations. For example, if your blog is on skin diseases, individual posts can be on allergy, eczema, hair loss, etc; posts can be on skin problems relating to different ages; a post on home treatments, one on diagnostics, one on medicines available, and so on. Only then a person searching for 'children's skin diseases' will find your blog and only then will she be satisfied with the specific information she was seeking. 

Well, this may not apply that strictly to personal blogs or blogs meant to comment on all things on the earth - and over 70% blogs are of this nature. Even then, on individual posts focus on the subject you are dealing with, and give it a title that represents the subject. Writing abstract blog titles and post headings might give us a creative kick, but they don't serve the purpose a title or heading must serve. For example, on a post about a recent trip to Shanghai, you got a glimpse of Chinese countryside and you want to write about it. Focus on this aspect and don't mingle it with Shanghai's skyscrapers. Don't title it 'Shanghai, the modern city in communist China' or 'Cute, starry eyed children somewhere in a nowhere land'. 

Focus helps in many ways, including SEO. More than just traffic, it helps you gain reputation as an expert blogger on that subject. Many bloggers (food, fashion, travel, reviews of books/ resorts/ restaurants/ boutiques, etc) have reported about their getting big offers from companies in that area. You are also likely to get a big following once you are considered an expert, which is a reward in itself and might get you offers to speak or write on that subject.

Look at the diversity of top Indian blogs in this avatar

As you would know, the category-wise listing of the topmost Indian blogs is the main 'Directory of Best Indian Blogs', in another avatar.

As earlier, majority of blogs in the 2015-16 directory too are of personal or hobby type - sharing the blogger's joys and embarrassments, and thoughts on matters ranging from surroundings to society to governments to policies to life itself. Though not on professional matters, the blogs included in the list are among the best blogs on India and by Indians.

There are a good number of blogs on travel and photography, fashion, literature, arts, food, movies and technology. The number of good blogs by expatriates has gone down while more blogs on fashion, beauty and various art forms have made into the directory.

In the service of blogging

We take this opportunity to thank all our blogger and other visitor friends who have been visiting us all these years. This month we crossed 1.2 million visitor mark. We are nowhere in comparison to blogging biggies who have a good number of people working for them and have other resources; but so many visits (even if we discount spammers) encourage us to keep supporting good blogging. 

More than anything else, the series of articles on how to start blogging and how to take it to a high level have become very popular in a short time. Our directories and other lists of top Indian blogs are also visited by thousands every week.

You will also find our numbers interesting if you look at some of our eccentricities that go against traffic (and money-making). We do not accept guest blogging or other offers that do not gel with our ethical policies; we do not reciprocate followers on Twitter unless we find their content useful to us; we have stopped comments on posts; we seldom comment elsewhere or engage in forums; we might have opened accounts on almost all known big social and bookmarking platforms (for experimentation) but we are hardly active except on Twitter; we do not visit blogger meets though we keep getting invites;  we do not accept direct ads that do not go with our blog... 

In some ways, we don't do what we preach. You will find un-optimized pages and images, no proper meta-description on many posts, even a few broken links. It is not because we are not convinced of what we tell others; in fact, we have done numerous experiments with ITB only to understand how various tools and tips work in real life. Our not applying these to our own work is mostly due to our being finicky about our ethical commitment OR due to constraint of time.

We are committed to serve blogging in our little way without seeking anything in return. If you want us to be more useful, or if you want to collaborate (only if you agree to abide by our commitment), do suggest us how. 

Though we have removed the comment box after every post as of now (part of a long experiment), we respond to every comment we get though the form on the right sidebar. Do write to us; we love to chat with bloggers and other visitors.