Transgender, cisgender sexual minorities have increased risk for eating disorders
Study findings in the Journal of Adolescent Health indicate young adults that identify as transgender or cisgender sexual minorities have increased risk for self-reported eating disorders.
To investigate associations between gender identity, sexual orientation and self-reported eating disorders, Elizabeth W. Diemer, of the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, and colleagues assessed questionnaire responses from 289,024 students from 223 U.S. universities. Study participants had a mean age of 20 years.
Overall, 0.17% of the study cohort identified as transgender, 0.58% identified as cisgender unsure male, 1.17% as cisgender unsure female, 2.07% identified as cisgender male sexual minority, 3.27% as cisgender female sexual minority, 31.69% as cisgender heterosexual male, and 61.06% as cisgender heterosexual female.
Use of diet pills in the past month, self-induced vomiting and laxative use was highest among transgender students and lowest among cisgender heterosexual males.
When adjusting for covariates, transgender students had significantly higher odds of an eating disorder diagnosis within the past year (OR = 4.62; 95% CI, 3.41-6.26), use of diet pills in the past month (OR = 2.05; 95% CI, 1.48-2.83) and self-induced vomiting or laxative use in the past month (OR = 2.46; 95% CI, 1.83-3.3) vs. cisgender heterosexual females.
Cisgender unsure females also had significantly higher odds of an eating disorder diagnosis within the past year (OR = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.14-1.73) and vomiting or laxative use within the past month (OR = 1.35; 95% CI, 1.14-1.61) vs. cisgender heterosexual females. Diet pill use was lower among cisgender unsure females compared with cisgender heterosexual females.
Cisgender male sexual minorities had higher odds of an eating disorder diagnosis within the past year (OR = 1.45; 95% CI, 1.28-1.65) vs. cisgender heterosexual women.
Female study participants who identified as cisgender sexual minorities had significantly lower odds for diet pill use (OR = 0.74; 95% CI, 0.65-0.85), self-induced vomiting or laxative use (OR = 0.72; 95% CI, 0.62-0.84) within the past month compared with cisgender heterosexual females.
“I don’t think that this is particularly surprising to the LGBTQ community and/or clinicians that work with members of this community,” study researcher Alexis Duncan, PhD, MPH, of the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a press release. “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.” – by Amanda Oldt
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