People who use dating apps are more likely to indulge in unhealthy weight control behaviors

People who use dating apps are more likely to indulge in unhealthy weight control behaviors

A recent study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders draws attention to an unhealthy relationship between dating apps and weight loss. The research claims that the app makes users indulge in unhealthy weight control behaviors which includes vomiting, use of diet pills and laxative.

Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, USA conducted a survey with the help of 1,726 US adults. The team drew results based on the user’s information from the dating app within the past 30 days. The team also accessed the user’s engagement in six unhealthy weight control behaviors (UWBCs) within the past 12 months.

The results revealed that among the total of 1,726 adult users of the dating app, 183 were women and 209 were men. Furthermore, women who used dating app had 2.3 to 26.9 times higher odds of indulging in UWBC activities than men who had 3.2 to 14.6 times odds of engaging in UWCBs.

“To our knowledge, our study is one of the first to explore dating app use in association with unhealthy weight control behaviors. When comparing those who do not use dating apps to those who do, we found that dating app users had significantly elevated odds of engaging in the six unhealthy weight control behaviors we investigated: vomiting for weight control, using laxatives for weight control, fasting for weight control, using diet pills, using muscle-building supplements, and using anabolic steroids,” reports Dr Alvin Tran, the lead author of the research study.

The study also revealed some of the most common activities of UWBCs which included fasting: 44.8% (82) of women and 54.1% (113) of men took to fasting, whereas another common activity included vomiting: 22.4% (41) of women and 36.4% (76) of men reported vomiting and finally use of laxative: 24% (44) of women and 41.1% (86) of men reported using laxatives for weight control. Moreover, users also took diet pills and used anabolic steroids or muscle building supplements in order to appear attractive.

Dr. Tran adds: “While we do not know if the people in our study were already engaging in these weight control behaviors before using dating apps, we worry that the use of these images- and appearance-focused services could exacerbate those behaviors. With the tremendous growth in dating app usage in the U.S. and an increasing number of studies linking their use to body image concerns and UWCBs, there is a need to further understand how dating apps influence health behaviors and outcomes.”

The team of researchers mentions in a statement that conclusions cannot be drawn about cause and effect between a dating app and UWCBs based on the cross-section nature of the study. The previous study in the area found that racial and ethnic minorities like African Americans were indulged in elevated rates of UWCBs, but the research confirms that elevated odds could not be based on sexual orientation.