Rebecca C. Kamody, Ph.D., of Yale University School of Medicine and colleagues analyzed data from the 2012-2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (NESARC-III), a survey of roughly 36,000 U.S. adults. The NESARC-III determined if participants had eating disorders based on whether their responses suggested that they met the DSM-5 criteria for eating disorders. They found that eating disorders occurred at the following rates among sexual minorities and heterosexuals:
- Anorexia nervosa occurred in 1.71% of members of sexual minorities, compared with 0.77% of heterosexuals.
- Bulimia nervosa occurred in 1.25% of members of sexual minorities, compared with 0.24% of heterosexuals.
- Binge eating disorder occurred in 2.17% of members of sexual minorities, compared with 0.81% of heterosexuals.
- Anorexia nervosa occurs in 3.78% of members of sexual minorities who experienced discrimination. There were no significant differences in the prevalence of bulimia or binge eating disorder in those who perceived discrimination
Compared with heterosexuals, members of sexual minorities may be nearly twice as likely to develop anorexia, more than three times as likely to develop bulimia nervosa, and more than twice as likely to develop binge eating disorder at some point in their lives, the study found.
“While there has been an impetus in recent years to increase diversity in [eating disorder] research, … the present study highlights the importance of diversifying further [eating disorder] research in order to inform the development of more responsive evidence-based interventions tailored to individual needs,” Kamody and colleagues wrote. “This may serve as a first step in reducing disparities and promoting health among sexual minority populations.”
For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Brief Update and Review on Treating Eating Disorders,” by James Lock, M.D., Ph.D.