Is there a connection between dating apps and eating disorders?

Is there a connection between dating apps and eating disorders?

Smartphones have propelled us into the digital age and opened the window for instant communication. Social media apps, such as Instagram, are proven to play a significant role for those susceptible to eating disordered behaviors, anxiety, and depression, but now research is showing dating apps can also be a key influence. A recent Harvard research study revealed that of 1,700 US adults (men and women) between the ages of 18-65, those using dating apps are 2.7-16.2 times more likely to have an eating disorder or use other unhealthy weight management practices such as laxatives, vomiting, fasting, or diet pills. Women proved to be the most vulnerable, being 26.9 times more likely than men.

How can a dating app contribute to an eating disorder?

Dating apps are a booming business, as the 9 most popular dating apps exceeded over $5 million in gross user spending during the first quarter of 2019. One of the most popular apps, Tinder, has an estimated 50 million worldwide users and earned more than $120 million in revenue in the US alone in Q1, while Bumble was second with $37 million.

While experts could not establish a direct cause and effect between dating apps and eating disorders, many agree that as the popularity of the appearance-focused services of dating apps grows, so does the negative effect they can have on a person. Since most dating apps are based on a first impression, it is easy to see how body image becomes an issue. Individuals who use dating apps are often engaged in a cycle of evaluating profile pictures, but at the same time are also subjecting themselves to scrutiny.

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