Health and Technology: Is Facebook making you fat?

In an age of quick fixes, instant everything, and an all around faster pace we seem to be creating more problems in life rather than solutions. We ride this attention deficit, high energy lifestyle.  If it doesn’t catch our attention for just the right amount of time we either toss it out of our busy lives or we ignore it and hope it goes away.  We as a society fail to grasp the importance of silence, self-reflection, and patience.  We are lost in the awe and wonder of how we can connect with thousands of people while sitting behind the comfort of a screen but have lost the ability to enjoy the company of others.  But:

What happened to the good old days when kids where hanging out in parks and playing in the streets until it got dark out?”

We’ve lost the passion for play, for wonderment, and ultimately for self discovery.  There was a recent study that came out studying people’s online habits in relationship with their self control.  It found that the increased use of Facebook may temporarily increase a persons self-esteem if they are interacting with people who are close to them but also led to decreased self control.  Our minds are being rewired to seek immediate reward over long term success and fulfilment.  If we think of the bigger picture and how children are being introduced at an earlier age to nascent technologies and how this will affect their brain development it becomes an even more concerning issue.  The study looked into the effects of Facebook use on snack choices and body mass index (BMI) and found that there was a correlation between eating snacks of low nutritional value and higher body mass indices.  We do, however, need to make a clear distinction that the findings suggest a correlation and not a causation.  This means that there is a relationship between the two but the internet has not been found to be a direct cause of loss in self control and increased body mass index.  Unfortunately most of the mass media went a little wild with this whole story and switched the story around a little to make us think as if there was a direct cause.  We need to practice discipline and stop pretending as if we are victims when it comes to the development of technology and how it interacts with us as individuals and as a society.  Undeniably there are modifications that go on in our brains when we adopt new habits but the key is that we can choose whether to accept the new habits or not.

It’s ironic how much we dread moving our bodies but we focus on these extrinsic goals like weight loss and getting ripped.  I certainly don’t agree with these gimmicks and TV shows that focus solely on weight loss.  Filling your stomach full of pills and shakes only creates a longterm weight loss in one area: your bank account.  These goals are temporary which fit well in our society’s short attention span.  I hate to break this but our bodies didn’t get into it’s current state over night let alone in the span of a few months so how can we expect a reversal to happen in a short amount of time?  The practise of exercise and nutrition is as much a mental exercise on discipline and self control as it is about doing the actual act.  Ultimately it’s not Facebook or any other technological platform that’s increasing our waistlines, it’s our choices in life.

One of the greatest trends that I’ve noticed in fitness and in most other things is that we’ve gone social with it.  We share everything about fitness now a days whether it’s working out with a friend, a group class, talking with a co-worker or a friend, or sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  We even have fitness apps that count calories and activities that we perform throughout the day.  Tools and platforms like these can be integrated into a healthy lifestyle in order to create accountability and self control but we need to own our lives and our habits.  Recently, it has become easier to make things like fitness fun by making it social again.  The integration of easy to use technology and exercise has become a game changer in the fitness industry and I love studying it’s effect.  Most of the health applications have actually forced us to increase our activity levels not just by heading to the gym but by making our daily lives more active.  So as much as the study that I stated above rings true with the use of internet and self control, it also discounts the fact that there is a new trend in which people are using the technology that once bound them to desks and couches to go out and play more.

Ultimately it’s your choice as to whether you’re going to let technology and all these gizmos control your or assist you in life and your goals.  Practise self control by putting your technology down and getting out and enjoying life more.  Truly connect and engage with people that are standing in front of you, then use technology to enhance the communication by carrying the conversation on when you’re away from them and others.  We chose to live a healthier that leads to fulfilment.

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About Chris Tse

I’m a scientist turned owner of Blitz Conditioning, a Fitness Columnist at CBC Radio on Thursdays at 8:20 am, and owner of Tse Social Strategy. Follow me on Twitter or Read my full bio.

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