The impact of Instagram on body image and dietary choices in 18-to-25 Year-olds in England: a quantitative study


  • Amelia Sale


Social media, Body image, Online survey, Dietary choices


Background: The aim of the study is to identify if using Instagram more frequently can have a negative impact on body image and dietary choices in people aged between 18 and 25 years old.

Methods: This research was a quantitative empirical study that used an online survey method. The inclusion criteria were that participants must be aged between 18 and 25 years of age, live in England, and hold or have held an Instagram account. The only exclusion was that they must identify as the same gender of which they were born to increase validity and reduce confounding variables. In total there were 53 participants included in the final analysis.

Results: Out of the 53 participants, 15 were male (28.3%) and 38 were female (71.7%), all identifying as the same gender as they were assigned at birth. The top 3 types of content participants engaged with most were “interacting with friends/ people they may know”, “food”, and “fitness”. As well as this 66.0% currently follow a ‘fitspiration’ account. Participants most commonly checked Instagram every few hours (58.5%) and spent 1 hour on Instagram on a typical day (35.8%).

When assessing body image, most participants identified their ideal body to be slimmer than their own. When participants engage with content on Instagram, 37.7% compare their appearance to others “very often”. This is higher in females (44.4%) than males (20.0%). 84.9% have also seen Instagram content that has made them want to change their diet.

Conclusion: Overall, there was no significant association between the use of Instagram and impacts on body image or diet choices. This was the case when analysing all three objectives overall. However, it highlighted many recommendations for future research.