Background: Worldwide, 60% of people use social media. Excessive and/or addictive use of social media termed “problematic social media use”, has been reported to negatively influence psychological and physiological health. Therefore, we proposed an illustrated model to investigate the associations between social media addiction, psychological distress and food addiction among Taiwanese university students. Methods: A total of 598 participants (mean age = 22.8 years) completed an online survey comprising the Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale (BSMAS) assessing social media addiction, the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21) assessing psychological distress, and the Yale Food Addiction Scale 2.0 (YFAS 2.0) assessing food addiction. Results: Structural equation modeling showed the significant associations between BSMAS and DASS-21 (standardized coefficient [β] = 0.45; p < 0.01) and between DASS-21 and YFAS 2.0 (β = 0.43; p < 0.01). In addition, mediation effect with 100 bootstrapping samples showed the indirect effect of DASS-21 in the association between BSMAS and YFAS 2.0 Conclusions: The present study details the relationships between social media addiction and psychological distress as well as food addiction. The results suggest the need for interventions aimed at reducing these negative outcomes. Coping strategies for improving self-control or reducing weight-related stigma, such as food consumption monitoring or mindfulness, could be adopted for at-risk individuals to address these problems.
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