Your Facebook Friends May be Making You Gain Weight and Debt

Keeping a close eye on your friends' via social media correlates to a higher body mass index and higher levels of credit card debit, according to a new study performed by researchers at Columbia Business School and the University of Pittsburgh.

The study, which will be published in the Journal of Consumer Research next June, says keeping watch on your close connections through Facebook enhances your self-esteem—and, as a result, causes you to let your guard down and temporarily lose self control.

“We found this in a variety of settings, ranging from healthy versus unhealthy food choices, to how long people persisted at a challenging task,” Andrew Stephen, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, told Mashable. “We also found broader evidence of this in two really important contexts where self control matters a lot: health and personal finances.”

The study controlled a number of demographic and socio-economic factors that could also affect weight and debt. The researchers are confident their correlation is correctly accurate.

The scary part is how little time spent on Facebook triggers these psychological effects. Just five minutes browsing Facebook can lead to a loss of self-control and a financial or food-related indulgence, the study suggests.

Fortunately, the solution is simple. Just being aware of this potential effect enables social media users to adjust their post-browsing actions and avoid otherwise unconscious decisions that will be regretted later, according to the study.

Photo: National Geographic

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Millions of people use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet. more

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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes and author of Tempest Bound. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys hiking, tennis, and martial arts. more

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