Pandemic, social media negatively affect adolescents with eating disorders

Kirsten Müller-Daubermann (Haglund)

Community Relations Specialist, Timberline Knolls & founder of the Kirsten Haglund Foundation

Chicago, Apr. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The pandemic has undoubtedly been tough on adolescents, and now there is data showing its real impact.

Key findings: The past two years have had a devastating effect on adolescent girls with eating disorders, and increased screen time from social media platforms put them at greater risk of developing other mental health problems.

“Adolescents and teens are more connected than ever, but we’ve seen that more screen time leads to more feelings of isolation, potential for cyberbullying, anxiety, depression and eating disorders,” said Kirsten Muller-Daubermann, a community relations specialist at Timberline Knolls and founder of the Kirsten Haglund Foundation. “The constant stream of social media presenting idealized images of bodies and social lives only leads to feelings of low self-esteem and comparison to perfectly curated highs. Our youth are bombarded with false images of reality, and the pandemic has exacerbated this.”

There are reports of rising suicide rates, depression and eating disorders in adolescents as a result of social media use. There is also evidence that social media platforms are conducting their own internal investigations, as they are aware that these channels can harm teens.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that emergency room visits doubled between 2019 and 2020 for adolescent girls ages 12-17 who suffer from eating disorders.

Everything became uncertain in the early days of the pandemic and the lockdown measures took longer than anyone imagined. For adolescent girls, that meant missing important life milestones and the everyday camaraderie of friends. To fill that gap, many turned to social media, where they were inundated with disturbing posts about diets and body image.

Given these findings, it’s important to identify warning signs that a teen may be struggling with an eating disorder so they can seek professional help before a crisis erupts. While every eating disorder has different symptoms, these are some common symptoms:

  • Obsession with weight, body shape and/or diet

  • Refusal to eat certain foods or restriction of foods

  • Uncomfortable with people

  • Weight fluctuates drastically, up or down

  • Unusually unpredictable or intense moods

  • Spend less time with friends or family or stop altogether

  • Difficulty getting good sleep

  • Wear loose clothing or layers

“As a society, we need to be aware and work to improve social media literacy, and point our young people to resources so they can get the support they need and deserve,” said Muller-Daubermann.

About Timberline Knolls
Located just outside of Chicago, Timberline Knolls is a leading residential treatment center for women and adolescent girls ages 12 and older who struggle with eating disorders, substance use, trauma, mood disorders, and co-occurring disorders. Residents receive excellent clinical care from highly trained professional staff on a picturesque 43-acre wooded campus. A partial adult hospitalization program (PHP) with supportive housing is also available nearby for women to resign or admit immediately. For more information, call (877) 257-9611 or visit We are also on Facebook – Timberline Knolls, LinkedIn – Timberline Knolls and Twitter – @TimberlineToday.

About Kirsten Muller-Daubermann (Haglund)

Kirsten Muller-Daubermann is an international speaker, mental health advocate, and digital media and marketing consultant. She is a community relations specialist for Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, hosts online video content, and is the founder of the Kirsten Haglund Foundation, which provides support to people recovering from eating disorders. Her op-eds on politics, culture and advocacy for nonprofits have appeared in the New York Daily News,, HuffPost, and industry journals. She served as Miss America 2008 and a Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Muller-Daubermann graduated from Emory University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and is currently based in Zurich, Switzerland.


CONTACT: MaryAnne Morrow Timberline Knolls 602-359-6989 [email protected]
Pandemic, social media negatively affect adolescents with eating disorders

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