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According to a recent Canadian study, young adults are more likely to develop an eating disorder if they engage in “cheat meals” that deviate from their eating habits.

Young men, women, transgender and gender non-conforming people have been found to develop an eating disorder more often if they engage in high calorie meals that deviate from their dietary practices. established, which are often very restrictive.

In the peer-reviewed study, published in the Eating Disorder Diary In August, researchers at the University of Toronto analyzed a sample of 2,717 young adults from the Canadian Adolescent Health Behavior Study.

The study found that most cheat meals ranged from 1,000 to 1,499 calories, and women often leaned towards salty and sweet foods, while men ate foods with higher amounts of protein. .

Of the sample of young adults, aged 16 to 30, the researchers found that more than half of the respondents said they had participated in at least one cheat meal in a year. Eating disorders linked to these habits included binge eating, compulsive exercise, overeating, and fasting behaviors.

The study found that men were more likely to partake in cheat meals, which often led to higher rates of binge eating in order to control their weight or shape. Researchers say this is likely due to the male health culture that promotes intense training and high-calorie meals for muscle growth.

In the past, health experts have called out the stigma surrounding eating disorders in young men, as women are most associated with restricted eating habits and excessive exercise.

“Healthcare professionals should be aware of the frequency of cheat meals among adolescents and young adults and the sanctioned nature of these behaviors in fitness communities and on social media,” said lead author and University of Toronto assistant professor Kyle Ganson in a news release.

“Future research should continue to conceptualize these types of eating behaviors and their implications for public health.”