Disparities in self-reported eating disorders and academic impairment in sexual and gender minority college students relative to their heterosexual and cisgender peers

Melissa Simone, Autumn Askew, Katherine Lust, Marla E. Eisenberg, Emily M. Pisetsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: The purpose of the current study was threefold: (a) compare rates of self-reported anorexia nervosa (AN), self-reported bulimia nervosa (BN), and eating pathology-specific academic impairment (EAI) by gender identity (cisgender men, cisgender women, transgender or genderqueer) and sexual orientation (gay or lesbian, bisexual, unsure, other), (b) examine associations between gender identity, sexual orientation, and eating outcomes, and (c) identify for whom rates of eating disorder diagnosis and impairment is greatest. Method: The study includes a sample of Minnesota students (n = 13,906) who participated in the College Student Health Survey from 2015 to 2018. Chi-square tests with bootstrapping examined differences in eating pathology rates between groups. Adjusted logistic regressions tested the association between gender identity, sexual orientation, and self-reported eating outcomes. Results: Chi-square results revealed heightened rates of self-reported AN, self-reported BN, and EAI in cisgender women, transgender or genderqueer, and sexual minority (e.g., lesbian or bisexual) students. Logistic regression analyses in cisgender men and cisgender women revealed higher odds of self-reported AN, self-reported BN, and EAI in sexual minority students relative their heterosexual peers. Chi-square analyses indicated that bisexual cisgender women reported heightened rates of all three eating pathology measures relative to other sexual and/or gender (e.g., transgender) minority students. Discussion: Individuals with marginalized gender and/or sexual orientation identities report heightened rates of eating pathology, with cisgender bisexual women reporting the poorest outcomes relative to individuals from other marginalized identities. Preventive efforts and more research are needed to understand the mechanisms driving this disparity and to reduce prevalence among marginalized groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-524
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume53
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
M.S. was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health under Award Number T32MH082761 (PI: Scott Crow). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Mental Health or the National Institutes of Health.

Keywords

  • anorexia nervosa
  • bulimia nervosa
  • disparities
  • gender identity
  • sexual and gender minorities

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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