Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gay Men Have Higher Prevalence Of Eating Disorders

Date:
April 14, 2007
Source:
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Summary:
Gay and bisexual men may be at far higher risk for eating disorders than heterosexual men, according to a recent study. In the first population-based study of its kind, researchers found that gay and bisexual men have higher rates of eating disorders.

Gay and bisexual men may be at far higher risk for eating disorders than heterosexual men, according to a study conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. In the first population-based study of its kind, the researchers found that gay and bisexual men have higher rates of eating disorders. The findings are reported in the April 2007 issue of International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Researchers Ilan H. Meyer, PhD, associate professor of clinical Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health and principal investigator, and Matthew Feldman, PhD, of the National Development and Research Institutes and first author, surveyed 516 New York City residents; 126 were straight men and the rest were bisexual men and women.

According to the study results, more than 15 percent of gay or bisexual men had at some time suffered anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder, or at least certain symptoms of those disorders -- a problem known as a subclinical eating disorder, compared with less than five percent of heterosexual men. In contrast, sexual orientation did not seem to influence the risk of eating disorder symptoms among women. Just below 10 percent of lesbian and bisexual women and eight percent of heterosexual women had ever reported having a subclinical eating disorder.

Despite the interest in the question of eating disorder in lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals, until now studies used measures of body dissatisfaction or symptoms of eating disorders, which may suggest the presence of an eating disorder, but does not assess diagnoses. This population-based study for the first time provides evidence of formal diagnoses based on established psychiatric criteria.

"It is not clear why gay men have high rates of eating disorders," says Dr. Meyer. "One theory is that the values and norms in the gay men's community promote a body-centered focus and high expectations about physical appearance, so that, similar to what has been theorized about heterosexual women, they may feel pressure to maintain an ideal body image."

To assess this theory, the investigators studied whether gay and bisexual men with greater connection and affiliation with the gay community are more likely to have eating disorders than those who are not affiliated with the gay community. Despite slightly elevated eating disorders among men who were active in gay recreational groups, men who said they felt closely connected to the gay community and who participated in a range of gay and bisexual organizations did not have higher rates of eating disorders than men who were not as closely affiliated with the community.

"Even gay and bisexual men who participate in gay gyms, where body-focus and community values regarding attractiveness would be heightened, did not have higher rates of eating disorders than those gay and bisexual men who participated in non-gay gyms or who did not participate in a gym at all," observes Dr. Meyer. "This suggests that factors other than values and norms in the gay community are related to the higher rates of eating disorder among these men."

As for the findings in women, the researchers reported no differences in rates of eating disorders between lesbian/bisexual women and heterosexual women, suggesting that lesbian/bisexual women are not protected from eating disorders as some previous researchers have suggested. Also, rates of eating disorders of lesbian/bisexual women did not differ significantly from gay/bisexual men. "This shows that there needs to be greater awareness of these problems among gay and bisexual men and women alike, as well as specific interventions to address the issues in this population," the researchers conclude.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "Gay Men Have Higher Prevalence Of Eating Disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070413160923.htm>.
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. (2007, April 14). Gay Men Have Higher Prevalence Of Eating Disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070413160923.htm
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "Gay Men Have Higher Prevalence Of Eating Disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070413160923.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Doctors once thought artificial sweeteners lacked the health risks of sugar, but a new study says they can impact blood sugar levels the same way. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) A healthy British volunteer is to become the first person to receive a new vaccine for the Ebola virus after US President Barack Obama called for action against the epidemic and warned it was "spiralling out of control." Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Researchers are puzzled as to why obesity rates remain relatively stable as average waistlines continue to expand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins