LGBT Students At Higher Risk Of Eating Disorders


Transgender, lesbian, gay and bisexual students are at greater risk of eating disorders, according to a new study from Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

The study examined data from the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment, which includes information from 289,024 students from 223 different U.S. universities. Researchers noted that the highest rates of eating disorders were in transgender people. The lowest rates were in heterosexual men.

“Transgender people were more likely to report a diagnosis of an eating disorder — bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa — in the past year,” senior author Alexis Duncan, PhD, assistant professor at the Brown School, said. “They also reported using vomiting, laxatives or diet pills more for weight control in the past 30 days than cisgender men and women, regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Transgender students were also found to have greater odds of diet pill use and vomiting or laxative use compared to cisgender heterosexual women. Transgender students were also more likely than any other members in the survey to report eating disorder diagnosis and compensatory behavior.

“I don’t think that this is particularly surprising to the LGBTQ community and/or to clinicians that work with members of this community,” Duncan said. “There is a lot of anecdotal evidence of eating disorders among transgender people; however, there have been few previous studies that have compared transgender people to cisgender people, and to our knowledge, no single previous study has compared transgender people to both cisgender heterosexual and sexual minority individuals.”

Each student self reported their mental health, substance use, sexual behavior and nutrition on the questionnaire distributed between 2008 and 2011. Around 5,000 students reported identifying as heterosexual, 15,000 as bisexual, lesbian or gay, and 479 as transgender.

The results were published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in April.

Source: Medical News

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