Friday, October 5, 2007

Gay Men Have Higher Prevalence Of Eating Disorders

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 dis"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.

Source: Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health


Not Only Gay said...

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AnelliDiFumo said...

Is eating at the speed of 100 km/h considered an eating disorder, too? :-)

T said...

It's an important subject that needs to be addressed in the gay community. It seems to go in two directions: on the one hand, men are starving themselves (or purging) to be thin and eliminate any trace of fat, while on the other, some spend too much time at the gym taking steroids, overworking their bodies to gain muscle. Strangely, some work themselves to the point where they don't look healthy. Just because you have big muscles doesn't always mean you're healthy. Unfortunately, I think the problem is only going to get worse because the pressure to look good or perfect is so strong in the gay community.

Avenue Road said...

I agree. It's an issue that isn't giving enough focus in our community. There is too much emphazsis on looking a certain way as suppose to being just healthy.

Avenue Road said...
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