People using Tinder and other dating apps are ‘more likely to develop eating disorders, take laxatives or use steroids’ to get bodies like ‘unrealistic’ celebrities
- Researchers at Harvard University studied the behaviour of people in their 20s
- People using dating apps were more likely to have unhealthy eating behaviours
- They are conscious of being compared to celebrities in their online profiles
People who use dating apps such as Tinder may be up to 27 times as likely to use drastic or unhealthy techniques to try and stay slim.
Deliberately vomiting, taking laxatives and even using anabolic steroids is more common among dating app users, a study found.
Researchers found ‘unrealistic’ desires to look like celebrities on television and social media are driving people to damaging behaviour.
And with an estimated 50million people around the world signed up to Tinder the scientists warned experts must better understand its damaging effects.
Researchers said social media and TV shows reinforce ‘ideal’ body images which drive men to try and become more muscly and women slimmer, which may drive them to drastic weight loss measures (Pictured: Love Island contestants Anton Danyluk and Amber Gill – the show is well-known for displaying young people with extremely honed bodies. Neither were mentioned in the research)
Researchers at Harvard University in Boston studied 1,726 adult men and women to look for links between their eating behaviour and online presence.
They found men who used dating apps, which may also include Grindr, Bumble and Happn, were between 3.2 times and 14.6 times more likely to have what the researchers called unhealthy weight control behaviours.
And for women the risk increase was even bigger, with their odds rising to between 2.3 and 26.9 times as high as those who didn’t use the app.
App users were more likely to make themselves sick, take laxatives, fast or use diet pills, muscle-building supplements or anabolic steroids to try and look good.
People may be desperate to look a certain way because of ideas of beauty promoted by famous people, the scientists said.
Those using dating apps are especially aware they’re constantly being judged by potential partners in a swipe-right culture online.
‘Studies suggest that the mass media – from television, magazines, to social media – contributes to body dissatisfaction by perpetuating dominant body image ideals for men and for women,’ Dr Tran and his colleagues wrote in their paper.
DATING APPS BLAMED FOR RISING STI RATES
Clinics are ‘struggling’ to cope with soaring numbers of STIs because dating apps are encouraging casual sex, experts have warned warned.
Cases of syphilis rose by half in Wales between 2016 and 2017, and record numbers of over-65s are getting syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia in England, figures have shown.
Experts and doctors in the field have warned the fast turnaround of partners and rise in casual sex fuelled by online dating apps may be making catching an STI more likely.
And they also make it more difficult to contact past partners, who may not have mutual friends.
Dr Olwen Williams, president of the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV told the BBC in October: ‘The frequency of app hook-ups and dating apps used as a sort of medium to access sexual activity seems to have increased significantly.
‘What we can say about sexual mixing and sexual networking is that things have changed considerably.
‘We’re seeing a genuine rise in STIs. If we were just seeing an increase in testing then our figures would look slightly different, but it feels that way.
‘Certainly in my career I’ve never seen so much gonorrhoea or syphilis in my area, ever.’
‘For men, this culturally constructed, dominant ideal is often one that is generally muscular with little body fat.
‘For women, the thin-ideal is often the idealized social norm for the female body although the pressure to achieve this ideal may vary across racial/ethnic groups.’
Millions of people are faced with images of curvy women with tiny waists and plump lips alongside sculpted men with bronzed six-packs and are led to believe these are an ideal standard.
Icons may be presented to people on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram or reality TV shows such as Love Island, which starts next week.
And people looking at them are more likely to be dissatisfied with their own bodies for not looking the same way, the researchers said.
Almost two thirds of people involved in the Harvard study were women (63.6 per cent) and most were white, between the ages of 18 and 30 and heterosexual.
Among those who used dating apps, 44.8 per cent of women and 54.1 per cent of men reported fasting to try and control their weight.
This compared to 27.1 and 27 per cent respectively among non-users.
Some 36.4 per cent of app-using men said they vomited to try and stay slim, as well as 22.4 per cent of women – up from 5.3 and 5.9 per cent.
More than a third of men on dating apps (36.4 per cent) admitted to using anabolic steroids, which are illegal, as well as 15.8 per cent of women.
Among those not trying to look good on dating apps steroid use was just 1.4 per cent for women or 3.8 per cent for men.
Dr Tran added: ‘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.
‘With the tremendous growth in dating app usage… 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 research was published in the Journal of Eating Disorders.