Researchers have found that using a dating app may be linked to an increased risk of unhealthy weight control behaviours (UWCBs) such as vomiting, laxative use, or diet pill use. The study, published in the Journal of Eating Disorders, shows that people who use dating apps are more likely to suffer from eating disorders.
The study included over 1,700 adults who completed an online survey which assessed their use of dating apps and their weight control behaviours.
When compared with non-users, those who used dating apps had significantly elevated odds of engaging in UWCBs including vomiting for weight control, using laxatives for weight control, fasting for weight control, using diet pills, using muscle-building supplements, and using anabolic steroids, said study lead author Alvin Tran from Harvard University.
Women who used dating apps had 2.3 to 26.9 times higher odds of engaging in UWCBs while for men it was 3.2 to 14.6 times.
“Consistent with previous research, we also found elevated rates of UWCBs in racial/ethnic minorities, particularly African Americans. We did not, however, find elevated odds of UWCBs based on sexual orientation,” Tran said.
“Whether the use of dating apps can be attributed to adverse health outcomes, including UWCBs, remains unclear,” the study author write in their conclusion. “The findings from our study, however, continue to fuel speculations that dating app users may be at risk of preventable physical and mental health outcomes. Therefore, identifying individuals at risk of eating disorders and their risk factors is critical in informing effective public health efforts aimed at alleviating the global burden of these potentially deadly yet preventable conditions.”