Dating apps may be helping people connect but they might also have a downside. A recent study has found that dating apps encourage dangerous crash dieting practices particularly among men. . The new study is published in the Journal of Eating Disorders
The investigation, conducted by the Harvard University, discovered a strong correlation between people who use dating apps such as Tinder and unhealthy weight-control behaviours such as fasting, vomiting and use of laxative pills.
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 image- and appearance-focused services could exacerbate those behaviors,” said Dr Alvin Tran, who led the research.
“To our knowledge, our study is one of the first to explore dating app use in association with unhealthy weight control behaviors,” he added.
The researchers analysed 392 dating app users – the result showed that 44.8 per cent of women reported fasting compared to 54.1 per cent of men. On the other hand, 36.4 per cent of men reported vomiting and 22.4 per cent of women.
The Harvard research also looked at which dating app users reported use of laxatives for weight control. And it found that 24 per cent of the women did so compared to 41 per cent of men.
Although the odds of the unhealthy weight control behaviours were associated with gender but not with sexual orientation.
Other prevalent weight loss methods includ diet pill use, and use of anabolic steroids or muscle building supplements.
All these methods are against medical advice or considered safe for weight loss. These are considered clinically relevant symptoms of eating disorders, the authors said.
In 2018, Whitney Wolfe, founder of popular dating app Bumble, admitted that such services can be harmful for mental health because they contribute to “smartphone addiction”. Wolfe added a new “snooze” function onto Bumble which freezes the app for a set period of time.