Study: Men’s Porn Habits Linked To Women’s Risk For Eating Disorders

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Women may be more likely to suffer from an eating disorder if their boyfriend or husband watches porn often, a new study finds.

Researchers at The Ohio State University say that the link between a man’s porn habits and a woman’s risk for eating disorders is strongest in relationships where women feel pressured to maintain a slim figure by their significant others.

“We often talk about the influences of media, family and friends on eating disorders, but little has been done to determine how a partner’s influence might contribute to a woman’s disordered eating,” says Tracy Tylka, a professor of psychology at the university, in a media release.

For the study, Tylka surveyed 409 American women in relationships with men with questionnaires used to gauge eating disorder symptoms and the level of outside pressure to be thin. Participants were also asked the frequency in which their partner and previous partners watched porn.

Tylka says the correlation between porn habits and symptoms of eating disorders was clear, along with pressure from a male partner to keep off extra weight. In fact, these behaviors fueled a woman’s risk for eating disorders even if she didn’t idealize having a supermodel’s figure herself.

“In many categories of eating disorder symptoms, perceived pressure from a romantic partner to be thin appeared to be more detrimental than pressure from friends or family, or even the media,” says Tylka.

Interestingly, Tylka notes that the women in the study were came from diverse backgrounds and tended to be in their mid-30s — far from the “stereotypical white adolescent girl with anorexia,” she says — showing that even older women struggle with similar issues.

“The relationship between partner pornography use and disordered eating was stronger for this group of women than for college women we’ve previously studied. That could be because these women have had more relationship experiences, and these experiences have shaped their relationships with food and their perceptions of their bodies,” she suggests.

The study is published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.