Nick Funk RD LDN, an Eating Disorder Dietitian Nutritionist in Pennsylvania, specializing in working with the LGBTQIA+ community, shares how eating disorders affect the LGBTQIA+ community at disproportionately higher rates, as well as highlighting the need for increased support and access to eating disorder care for the LGBTQIA+ community, in addition to offering resources for those looking for support and affirming care.
Eating Disorders in the LGBTQIA+ Community
Eating disorders affect and impact people from all walks of life and many different factors contribute to the development and maintenance of eating disorders. However, certain communities, including the LGTBQIA+ community, are at higher risk of developing eating disorders.
Studies have shown that the LGBTQIA+ community is particularly affected by eating disorders with higher prevalence of reported disordered eating and diagnosed eating disorders than their straight and cisgender peers.
Additionally, in a 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 9% of LGBTQ youth ages 13-24 reported being diagnosed with an eating disorder and another 29% reported that they suspect they might have one and have disordered eating.1 It was also found that gay and bisexual males are 7 times more likely to report binge eating and 12 times more likely to report purging than straight men.2 Trans and non-binary college students are 4x more likely to report disordered eating than cisgender students.2
Why are there higher rates of eating disorders in the LGBTQIA+ Community?
There are many contributing factors that impact the LGBTQIA+ community in developing eating disorders. For instance:
- Increased levels of stress due to discrimination, bullying, harassment, and systemic violence
- Internalized homophobia, transphobia
- Fear of rejection or anxiety about coming out
- Not being accepted by family, friends, or community leading to isolation
- Body image concerns related gender dysphoria in trans and non-binary folks
- Body image concerns related to unrealistic societal ideals in the community
Signs of disordered eating and possible eating disorder
If you are concerned that you or someone you know may show signs of disordered eating patterns, here are some possible signs to look for.
- Restrictive and rigid rules around food or eating
- Eliminating entire food groups or a hyper focus on eating “healthy”
- Compensatory exercise with focus on changing body, burning calories, and losing weight
- Hiding food and eating in secret
- Avoiding social situations that involve food or eating
- Purging after eating
As Pride Month (June) comes to a close, it is important to recognize and commit to addressing the issues that individuals in the community face, in many contexts.
We continue to honor those that have fought for equal rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual + (LGBTQIA+) community and celebrate the community’s strength, diversity, and pride as they continue fighting for equal rights and justice today.
Lastly, if you or someone you know is struggling with disordered eating, poor body image, and disconnection from your internal cues, we at Reclaim Nutrition, a team of dietitians who are passionate about providing compassionate, affirming, and inclusive care for all clients, can help support you in recovery and in healing your relationship with your body and food. Check out our website to learn more.
Additional resources below for LGBTQIA+ eating disorder support and care
LGBTQIA+ Eating Disorder Support Groups
- ANAD Support Groups – LGBTQIA+ (18 and older group) and a general teen group
- Eating Recovery Center LGBTQIA+ support group
Eating Disorder Treatment Centers
Mental Health Hotline and Resources for LGBTQIA+ Youth & Young Adults (13-24)
Financial Support for Treatment and Increased Access to Care
1. Eating disorders among LGBTQ youth. The Trevor Project. February 22, 2022. Accessed June 29, 2023. https://www.thetrevorproject.org/research-briefs/eating-disorders-among-lgbtq-youth-feb-2022/.
2. Eating disorder statistics: General & Diversity stats: ANAD. ANAD National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. May 3, 2023. Accessed June 29, 2023. https://anad.org/eating-disorders-statistics/.
If you are struggling in your relationship with food and would like to learn more about resources and support, we invite you to reach out.
Our Dietitian team at Reclaim Nutrition would love to support you on your journey to food freedom, body image healing and eating disorder recovery.
We are here, if you should need it!