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The Impact of Eating Disorders on the LGBT Community

It’s often said that eating disorders do not discriminate.  Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating don’t care about your socio-economic status, age or race, but what about when it comes to your sexual orientation? Research is showing that eating disorders are impacting some segments of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community more than the general population. The issues that are associated with LGBT people – discrimination, and lack of support and understanding – can complicate finding eating disorder treatment.

There are many contributing factors as to why the LGBT community may be at higher risk for eating disorders. Simply by “coming out,” they often experience harassment and trauma that can aggravate other conditions like anxiety and depression, which leads to unhealthy coping strategies.  Food becomes the one thing they can control, and that often leads to the development of eating disorders. According to the National Association of Eating Disorders (NEDA), gay men are thought to only represent 5% of the total male population, but among men who have eating disorders, 42% identify as gay. Body image plays an important role, particularly in gay and bi-sexual males where the pressure to be perfect is forceful.

The research involving lesbian and bisexual women seems to be inconclusive when compared to heterosexual women and eating disorders. It is estimated that 10% of lesbian and bi-sexual women have an eating disorder. Unfortunately, transgendered people are generally underrepresented in most studies. The lack of statistical information just adds to the complexity of finding support and treatment for this segment of the population.

No matter who you are or what your circumstances are, support and treatment for an eating disorder takes understanding and sensitivity. At Rebecca’s House, our eating disorder staff and consulting team members have the experience and clinical knowledge to guide you through, so that you can live life to the fullest.  Call us today us today at 866-554-1851 to find out more.

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