People who use dating apps more likely to have eating disorders - study

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Tinder is one of many dating apps people commonly use. Photo credit: Getty

New research suggests that people who use dating apps like Tinder may be up to 27 times as likely to use drastic or unhealthy techniques to try and stay slim.

The Harvard University study said deliberately vomiting, taking laxatives and even using anabolic steroids is more common among dating app users.

It found an unrealistic desire to look like celebrities on television and social media is driving people to damaging behaviour.

The survey involved more than 1700 adults from the US between the ages of 18 and 65.

"Individual dating app users are continuously engaging in a cycle in which they are evaluating profile pictures and brief descriptions of others, yet are being subject to scrutiny themselves," wrote study author Dr Alvin Tran, a postdoctoral associate at the Yale School of Medicine.

Among the 1762 people surveyed, about 17 percent of the women and 33 percent of the men said they used dating apps. Of those who said they date online, 44.8 percent of women and 54.1 percent of men reported fasting, 22.4 percent of women and 36.4 percent of men reported purposefully vomiting and 24 percent of women and 41.1 percent of men said they used laxatives to manage their weight.

"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," Tran said, adding that there's a need to further understand how dating apps influence people's health behaviors.