According to a new study, transgender and non-transgender lesbian, gay and bisexual college students seem to be at the highest risk for eating disorders.
As reported in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the study involved students at 223 US universities—including more than 200,000 heterosexuals, 5,000 who are ‘unsure,’ 15,000 who are gay, lesbian or bisexual and 479 who are transgender.
This study is the first to include enough transgender people to make meaningful comparisons to other gender identities, said Alexis E. Duncan, the study’s senior author from George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.
The students self-reported their mental health, substance use, sexual behavior, and nutrition history on questionnaires distributed between 2008 and 2011.
They reported whether or not they had been diagnosed or treated by a professional for anorexia or bulimia within the previous year, and if they had vomited, taken laxatives or diet pills over the past month.
The researchers compared various gender identity and sexual orientation groups with cisgender heterosexual women, who are usually the focus of eating disorder literature. About 1.5 percent of the students said they were diagnosed with an eating disorder during the previous year. Almost 3 percent had vomited or used laxatives and more than 3 percent had used diet pills during the previous month.
These reports were all most common among transgender students and least common among cisgender heterosexual male students, the researchers found.
Compared to cisgender heterosexual women, cisgender lesbian or bisexual women were less likely to report a past-year eating disorder. But cisgender unsure women and men and cisgender gay or bisexual men were more likely to report a diagnosis.
Transgender students were more than four times as likely to report an eating disorder diagnosis as cisgender heterosexual women.
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Source: Content modified from Kathryn Doyle’s post on Reuters