Internet Addiction Disorder has been a subject of much contention, to put it mildly. Not only is there an immense lack of research on IAD, but the nature of the internet itself makes it open to categorization as both an addiction as well as a new mode of socialization.
What exactly is IAD?
Where some studies suggest that IAD be compared to a gambling addiction, others attribute overuse of the internet to existing disorders. Regardless of whether or not IAD should be considered its own psychological disorder, or if the internet is simply exacerbating existing ones, there is fairly strong evidence that spending more time on the internet can directly and indirectly lead to weight gain.
So how is the internet making me fat?
Besides the obvious reasons of why sitting around on your computer all day will cause you to gain weight, there have been correlations found between internet use and social anxiety. One study carried out by Monash University in Australia found that those who spent more time on the internet (especially on social-networking sites) showed increased levels of anxiety in real life social situations at the end of the several month long trial period. And what does social anxiety do besides give us the ability to spend an entire weekend without leaving the house? Make us fat, of course!
How does social anxiety cause weight gain?
Anxiety releases cortisol, which causes your liver to release glucose, your muscles to release amino acids, and an impending spike in appetite after, making you a great candidate for weight gain as well as diabetes. In addition to this, your catabolic metabolism increases, which in turn decreases your anabolic metabolism, causing more and more calories to be allocated to fat instead of maintenance for your body. Your body will also lose its ability to burn its stomach fat as efficiently as before, driving one more greasy nail into the coffin that is your beer gut.
You might have noticed that this claim relies on the presupposition that you would find yourself in real life social situations enough to give you a considerable amount of social anxiety, leading to a noticeable amount of weight gain. The only answer to that I can think of is that if you really go that long without any real life social contact, you probably have bigger problems than your diet not working.
About the author:
Eric Hirota is a personal trainer at LAVA Sport & Fitness located in San Diego, CA.