Is There A Link Between Dating Apps & Unhealthy Weight Loss?

hair & makeup by Andi Yancey; produced by Julie Borowsky; modeled by Lao J; produced by Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez; photographed by Megan Madden; styled by Michelle Li.
Dating apps have become an integral part of modern life – it's been estimated that one in three relationships in the UK now begins online.
But as we grow more accustomed to (and possibly reliant on) dating apps, we're also becoming aware of their dark side. In April, it was revealed that crimes involving dating apps have doubled in four years.
Now, a study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders suggests that people who are active on dating apps are more likely to use unhealthy weight loss methods than people who aren't.
The study of around 1700 adults in the US found that women who use dating apps are up to 26.9 times more likely to use one of six so-called "unhealthy weight control behaviours" (vomiting, using laxatives, fasting, using diet pills, using muscle-building supplements and using anabolic steroids).
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It found that men on dating apps were up to 14.6 times more likely to use these unhealthy weight control behaviours (UWCBs).
The study also found that people from minority ethnic groups were more likely to use UWCBs, which its lead author, Dr Alvin Tran of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, described as being "consistent with previous research".
The study is obviously predicated on the idea that constantly being asked to decide whether someone is dateable based on their appearance, at least initially, could trigger or exacerbate some people's body image issues.
However, the study's lead author stopped short of suggesting that it proves a direct causal link between dating apps and unhealthy weight control behaviours. He also called for further research into this area so we can better understand how dating apps might affect UWCBs and eating disorders.
Dr Tran said: "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... 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."
Tony Quinn of Beat, the UK's eating disorder charity Beat, told the BBC: "It is important to note that this research does not prove a causal link between dating apps and unhealthy weight control behaviours. Nevertheless, it is important that dating app users who may be at risk of eating disorders are directed to sources of support."
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, please call Beat on 0808 801 0677. Support and information is available 365 days a year.
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