A new research has found that people who use dating apps are more likely to suffer from eating disorders and abuse laxatives than those who don’t date online.
Published in the Journal of Eating Disorders on Friday, May 31, 2019, researchers from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts conducted a study to determine the potential connection between dating apps and body image.
The research, which was carried out on more than 1,700 U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 65, found that people who use dating apps are 2.7 to 16.2 times more likely to have an eating disorder than those who don’t use them. The study was conducted from October 2017 to December 2017.
Findings from the study showed that women who use dating apps such as Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel are having 2.3 to 26.9 times higher odds of using elevated “unhealthy weight control behaviors.”
It includes self-induced vomiting, fasting or using diet pills and laxatives, which are all symptoms of eating disorders.
On the other hand, men who use dating apps are up to 14.6 times more likely to take unhealthy weight control measures.
Among those surveyed, 183 women and 209 men said they had used dating apps in the 30 days prior to being surveyed.
In the same group, nearly half of men and women reported fasting to control their weight. One in five women and one in three men said they would vomit for weight control.
Men who used dating apps were much more likely than women to use steroids and supplements to build up their muscles.
The researcher, however, did not find an increased association between unhealthy weight control behaviours and sexual orientation.
“Individual dating app users are continuously engaging in a cycle in which they are evaluating profile pictures and brief descriptions of others, yet are being subject to scrutiny themselves,” Alvin Tran, the study author and postdoctoral associate at the Yale School of Medicine, wrote.
“While we do not know if the people in our study were already engaging in these weight control behaviours before using dating apps, we worry that the use of these image and appearance-focused services could exacerbate those behaviours.
“With the tremendous growth in dating app usage in the US, and an increasing number of studies linking their use to body image concerns and unhealthy weight control behaviours, there is a need to further understand how dating apps influence health behaviours and outcomes.”
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