Women who are constantly egged on by their husband or partner to lose weight are more likely to resort to unhealthy measures, a new study has found.
The study finds that unhealthy weight control behaviors, such as fasting, using diet pills, and self-induced vomiting, are common among young adults and are often the beginning of more severe eating disorders, depression and other health problems.
The study surveyed 1,294 young adults in Minnesota between the ages of 20 and 31 who were in relationships.
They were asked about their eating habits and whether their partner "diets to lose weight or keep from gaining weight" or "encourages me to diet to control my weight."
Almost half of the participants said their significant other encouraged them to diet.
Encouragement, however, was often viewed as negative or critical rather than supportive.
Binge eating among women was nearly doubled if their significant other encouraged dieting "very much" (25.5 percent) compared to "not at all" (13.6 percent).
Overall, more than 40 percent of the people surveyed had used extreme diet tactics in the past year, which were more common among women (51.2 percent) than men (29.9 percent)
Clinical psychologist Jennifer McClure, Ph.D., associate director of research, faculty and development at Group Health Research Institute, who was not associated with the study, commented that young adults' eating habits are influenced both positively and negatively by significant others as a result of so-called modeling or peer pressure.
The study is published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.