Monday, September 21, 2009

LGBT Teens suffer more from binge-eating and purging than Straight Teens

Research shows that LGBT teens suffers from binge-eating and purging more than their heterosexual teen counterparts.
For the new study, researchers at Harvard University and Children's Hospital Boston used data from a U.S. survey of nearly 14,000 12- to 23-year-olds to look at the relationship between sexual orientation and binge-eating and purging. "

We found clear and concerning signs of higher rates of eating disorder symptoms in sexual-minority youth compared to their heterosexual peers even at ages as young as 12, 13 or 14 years old," lead researcher S. Bryn Austin, an assistant professor of pediatrics, told Reuters Health in an email.

Among females, lesbian, bisexual and mostly heterosexual respondents were all about twice as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to report binge-eating at least once per month in the past year.

Bisexual and mostly heterosexual girls and women were also more likely to say they had purged in the past year in order to control their weight. Among males, the highest risks were seen among homosexuals -- who were seven times more likely to report bingeing and nearly 12 times more likely to report purging than heterosexual males.

Bisexual and mostly heterosexual boys and men also had elevated risks of both problems -- with rates anywhere from three to seven times higher than those of their heterosexual counterparts.

This is not a surprise, but it's still sad. But the interesting piece is this statement by S. Bryn Austin:

"We know that gay, lesbian, and other sexual-minority kids are often under a lot of pressure," Austin said, noting that these teens are often "treated like outsiders" in their own families and schools, and may be excluded, harassed or victimized by bullies.

"This kind of isolation and victimization can take its toll on a young person and one of ways it can play out is in vulnerability to eating-disorder symptoms and a host of other stress-related health problems."

Austin should look into the pressures the LGBT community contribute to this as well. Let's be real, the shallowness that plagues our community is very dangerous. I know many of us have felt the pressures of looking hot, thin, young and beautiful to fit in.

Imagine what a questioning teen goes through and when they try to reach out the LGBT community, they may not be cute enough for someone to care. This is not the regular scenario, but I know it happens. I know there are LGBT teens feeling alienated from LGBT community because they don't fit into the idea gay look.

But that's another post for another time.


1 comment:

ToddyEnglish said...

This is so true. I can identify because, in my early teens, I did go through a bout of anorexia. People think of it as a white female's disorder which isn't true.
Thankfully, by some miracle, I stopped starving myself but that isn't the case for most.
It didn't have anything to do with the LGBT community though. It was my own self hatred manifesting itself in that way.

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Viktor is a small town southern boy living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Twitter, writing about pop culture, politics, and comics. He’s the creator of the graphic novel StrangeLore and currently getting back into screenwriting.