Just when we thought the depths of dating apps couldn’t get much murkier, research has shown a link between female users and unhealthy control over their weight.
Tinder has more than 66 million active users worldwide, so we’re guessing things would be VERY different.
Despite a recent report showing that dating apps are the least preferred way of meeting a romantic partner, 53% of 25- to 34-year-olds said they do use apps in the search for a partner.
But we all know the contentious issues concerning dating apps.
Catfishing, ghosting, online shaming and unsolicited “dick pics” are just some of the things that many users endure in their quest for love. Unsurprisingly, these can lead to mental health problems. In fact, a study by the University of North Texas last year found that dating app users report lower self-esteem and lower psychosocial well-being than non-users.
The most recent research into users’ mental wellbeing has now showed even darker findings.
A new report in the Journal of Eating Disorders suggests that men and women who use dating apps have an increased risk of controlling their weight in unhealthy ways.
It reports that women who use the apps are up to 26.9 times more likely to adopt extreme dieting tactics to try to control their weight than those who don’t. It also found that male app users are 14.6 times more likely to take unhealthy weight control measures.
Nearly 45% of the female participants and 54% of male participants said they had fasted at some point over the past 12 months as a form of weight control. More than a fifth of the women and over a third of the men said they had vomited for weight control, while 24% of the women and 41% of the men said they had used laxatives. Also, men were much more likely than women to use steroids and supplements to build up their muscles.
However, the researchers said that a direct link could not be proved and more research was needed to explore the relationship.
People swipe left or right within milliseconds based on their first impressions of potential matches, which puts a lot of pressure on users to create “swipe right” profiles - so it’s easy to see how body image can quickly become a huge issue.
“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,” said Dr Alvin Tran, lead author of the study from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
“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.”
With these worrying findings, more research is urgently needed.