A new study shows that gay and bisexual young people are at higher risk for developing eating disorders than straight youth. The University of British Columbia published a new report stating that LGBT teens are more likely to take diet pills, purge, and fast.
Over 26,000 students in Massachusetts were studied between 1999 and 2013. The research shows the number of eating disorders have fallen for straight students, they have gradually increased within in the LGBT community.
There are twice as many lesbians who admitted to purging and fasting in 2013 than there were in 1999. Only 5% of straight girls admitted to the same types of behavior in 2013, down from 8% of straight girls in 1999.
“Our study has found that it’s only getting worse for lesbian and bisexual girls,” says lead researcher Ryan Watson.
Watson believes this data highlights the importance of educating LGBT youth specifically on healthy eating behavior and body image.
Laird Birmingham, who treats patients with eating disorders, says: “They have to be allowed to hear things in the context of their beliefs, of their life, how it’s developing, and the challenges they have sexually.”
Pei-Yoong Lam, a pediatrician, says: “Kids who are lesbian, gay or bisexual or transgender are at risk of various conditions, particularly mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. There also tend to be more risk-taking behaviors in this population and it really is about the support that they receive in the community.”