Are there links between body image, physical activity and eating disorders? Stories and research from decades ago have shown that competitive sports can encourage the development of eating disorders. In the 1990’s, Sports Illustrated articles openly discussed the deadly impact of anorexia on women athletes. Yet, roughly twenty years later, this problem still exists in U.S. culture. Today the National Eating Disorder Association reports that over one-third of Division 1 NCAA athletes have symptoms that place them at risk for anorexia. Most people think that only female athletes are at risk for an eating disorder, however, male athletes are also at risk—especially those participating in sports where diet, appearance, size, and weight are of importance such as wrestling, bodybuilding, crew, and running. (more…)
Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia often provide individuals with a sense of purpose; as if they are on a mission to remake themselves and finally become happy. People suffering from an eating disorder may have that inner voice telling them they will be happy if they can just lose the weight. This same voice tells a person with anorexia or bulimia that their worth is primarily measured by how they physically look. (more…)
Social media is a popular tool for communication and entertainment. Few people would question the fact that people are spending an increasing amount of time on these new media platforms. In recent years, social media has become much more visual in presentation and layout. However, it is the evolution of the technology used to manipulate and alter images that have researchers concerned. (more…)
ARFID or Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder was previously referred to as “Selective Eating Disorder.” While ARFID is like anorexia in that it involves limitations on the amount or type of food consumed, it does not involve concern about body shape, size or weight. (more…)
Bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that requires a comprehensive treatment program for successful recovery. Like other eating disorders, bulimia is complicated and not fully understood, but some of the contributing factors include genetics, environment, psychological, and cultural influences. (more…)
An important part of National Nutrition Month® is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, a time to increase awareness of this important role and recognize them for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives. Since eating disorders are complex, it is important to have a diverse, and collaborative treatment team. In addition to therapists, psychiatrists, nurses, and family members, an experienced and knowledgeable dietitian is vital to positive treatment outcomes. (more…)
Anorexia nervosa is a serious mental illness characterized by significant weight loss; difficulties maintaining appropriate body weight and, for some, body dysmorphia. At any given time, anorexia nervosa will affect 0.3-0.4% of young women and 0.1% of young men, and it has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. (more…)
For many years, eating disorders were historically associated with women who were young, straight and white. Yet, issues surrounding body image and eating behavior actually affect people from all demographic backgrounds. Healthcare professionals are increasingly aware that eating disorders are a challenging mental health condition for a wide variety of people. These mental health concerns appear among all socio-economic, sexual orientations and ethnic backgrounds.
In particular, the rates of individuals who suspect that they have an undiagnosed eating disorder are much higher for the LGBTQ+ community. If one does a deeper analysis of the term LGBTQ+, transgender individuals appear to have the highest rate of eating disorders.
However, much of this population often go without professional treatment or medical care. Transgender people may forgo receiving treatment due to a lack of access to healthcare, financial pressures or discrimination. Some transgender individuals have reported negative feelings after interacting with healthcare providers. At times, there is a feeling that healthcare practitioners are not sensitive to the psychological and medical needs of transgender patients.
Recent studies are starting to indicate that transgender people, particularly the youth, are more susceptible to developing eating disorders. Researchers suggest that prejudice, harassment and unstable home environments for transgender youth are some of the reasons for the higher rate of eating disorders among this population.
Research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that transgender youth were four times more likely than cisgender, heterosexual, female peers to report a diagnosed eating disorder and twice as likely to report abusing weight loss pills and engaging self-induced vomiting.
One theory for this disturbingly high rate among transgender youth is that these individuals are unhappy with their physical appearance. They have eating behaviors that are perhaps attempting to halt the development of certain physical features that do not match their gender identity.
A recent Canadian study surveyed 923 transgender youth between the ages of 14 to 25 who were scattered across the country. The survey found that, as a sexual minority, these youth experienced a much higher rate of harassment and discrimination. Also, out of the youth surveyed, there was a higher prevalence of eating disorders among individuals who had reported experiencing harassment and discrimination.
According to Dr. Judith Brisman, founder of the Eating Disorder Resource Center, eating disorders reflect how someone feels about themselves. Dr. Brisman states that transgender women appear to have more concerns with body image versus other transgender groups. Dr. Brisman agrees with previous studies that suggest that transgender youth are using restrictive eating behaviors in an attempt to control their body’s appearance in order to achieve a beauty ideal that is nearly impossible to attain.
Another study examined self-reported eating disorders among American college students and the associations of sexual orientation and gender identity. This research also discovered elevated rates of eating disorder behaviors among transgender, cisgender and other sexual minority populations.
It is clear that eating disorders impact all people. However, research indicates that the LGBTQ+ community is at a heightened risk of developing eating-related disorders. In the transgender community, especially the youth, are particularly vulnerable to eating disorders. What is needed is a safe and accepting environment that helps transgender youth feel connected to others and provides protection from harmful stigmas.
For additional information about eating disorder treatments in the LGBTQ+ community, contact the River Centre Clinic. Their medical facility provides experienced treatment options for adults and adolescents. For questions and professional help with eating disorders call 877-212-5457 or 419-885-8800.
They are located in Northwest Ohio in the town of Sylvania and provides state-of-the-art treatment location in a modern, spacious and tranquil setting. River Centre Clinic is designed to provide a safe and attractive alternative to hospital-based programs.
For online self-diagnosis, take River Centre Clinic’s EAT-26 assessment. The Eating Attitudes Test is quick and provides anonymous feedback.
Follow us on Twitter: @River_Centre
Transgender Youth, LGBTQ+, Eating Disorders
Contributor: ABCS RCM
The origin and development of eating disorders is a complex topic. In the past, misunderstandings about these disorders led many people to create false conclusions. Thankfully, newer research on how these ailments develop in an individual are slowly dispersing these misperceptions. These newer studies have even started to explore the connection between eating disorders like anorexia, depression and a person’s genetics.
The traditional stereotype for someone with an eating disorder was a younger, wealthier, Caucasian woman. However, this stereotype is not true. In fact, people from a wide-variety of backgrounds can, and do, suffer from eating disorders. Pushing beyond societal identifiers like race and income levels, researchers are now beginning to study the human genome in order to discover additional eating disorders indicators.
For conditions like anorexia nervosa, bulimia or binge eating; healthcare professionals still are not sure as to why some people develop eating disorders. However, there are well-documented risk factors that can increase an individual’s chances for developing an eating disorders. Studies have shown a strong correlation between the existence of depression and occurrence of an eating disorder. These disorders also commonly co-occur with anxiety disorders.
Major depressive disorder or clinical depression is one of the more common mood disorders. Similar to eating disorders, the symptoms of depression can affect how a person feels and thinks. Even activities such as sleeping, eating, or working are impacted. Clinical depression is more than feeling sad for a day. It is much longer and more severe. For example, for a behavioral health professional to make a diagnosis, the symptoms for major depressive disorder usually must be present for at least two weeks.
In one study, researchers sampled 2,400 individuals who were hospitalized for an eating disorder. Out of this sample group, researchers discovered that 92% of those in this group struggled with a depressive disorder. Discovering connections between these conditions has encouraged researchers to look at more recent large-scale genomic studies. Using genetics to explore the complexity of eating disorders is starting to produce clues as to the disease’s origins and why it is so persistence.
One of the first studies that was able to document a strong correlation between eating disorders and genetics was in 2017. The research, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, was able to identify a significant genetic marker for anorexia nervosa. The implication of this research suggests that health conditions like anorexia nervosa may both exist as a psychiatric and a metabolic disorder.
Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any eating disorder. Commonly referred to as anorexia, the disorder is characterized by extreme caloric restriction resulting in weight loss, an intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted body image. Individuals with this condition sometimes go undiagnosed, but researchers estimate that roughly 2 percent of women and 0.3 percent of men suffer from this disease.
Researchers have found, by studying the genetic makeup of identical twins, that anorexia is 50 to 60 percent inheritable. Earlier genetic research has linked these same genomic regions to autoimmune disorders, including type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
With the success of the Human Genome Project, which was completed in 2003; researchers can now study the impact of genetic code on a person’s health. The successful completion of the project gave scientist and physicians the ability, for the first time, to read the complete genetic code for building a human being. Currently, this DNA blueprint is used to research many other diseases and conditions. Hopefully, this new research will provide a better understanding as to why and how eating disorders develop, as well as offer additional treatment options.
Experienced Healthcare professionals can help individuals identify eating disorders, as well as provide safe and effective treatment options. For additional information or questions about eating disorder treatment options, please contact the staff at River Centre Clinic (RCC). Their Eating Disorders Programs provide a full range of treatment options for both adolescents and adults.
River Centre Clinic’s primary goal is to provide high quality, cost-effective, specialized care for patients with eating disorders in a state-of-the-art treatment environment. Our levels of care deemed most cost-effective for the majority of these patients is Partial Hospitalization for adults and Residential Treatment for adolescents. We also provide outpatient services for this patient population in order to facilitate transition to and from the above higher levels of care that are usually required for effective treatment of this population.
The EAT-26 (Eating Attitudes Test) assessment provides anonymous and quick feedback for a variety of eating-related health conditions.
Follow on Twitter: @River_Centre
Genetics, Depression, Eating Disorders, Anorexia
When the term eating disorder is mentioned, there is usually a specific mental image that comes to mind. Traditionally, the stereotypical person with this type of mental health issue is a young, wealthier Caucasian female. Mass media and pop culture images usually reinforce the portrayal of hyper-thin, white women who are suffering from the effects of conditions like anorexia nervosa. However, this stereotype that eating disorders only inflect younger, white women is not correct.
Eating disorders are usually placed into four overall categories: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED). Other mental health issues are also commonly assisted with these eating disorders such as general anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, bipolar disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
The American Psychiatric Association defines an eating disorder as an illness where people experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviors. They also have problems related to the regulation of thoughts and emotions, usually becoming obsessed with food consumption and their body weight. The prevalence of reported eating disorders, with the exception of anorexia nervosa, is similar among Non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asian Americans in the United States.
Decades ago, American societal portrayals of eating disorders were almost always shown as a white-woman problem. Shockingly, this misconception was also maintained by physicians and other healthcare professionals.
For example, behavioral health research from 2006 challenged the notion that African-American women were less likely to develop eating disorders. In this study, healthcare providers read 1 of 3 passages describing disturbed eating patterns of a fictional patient named Mary. The only differences between the passages were that the patient’s race, which was randomly changed for each provider. This meant that every fictional patient’s symptoms were identical, with only the person’s race randomly rotating between African-American, Caucasian, or Hispanic.
Healthcare professionals were then asked to diagnosis the patient’s level of depression, anxiety as well as whether an eating disorder might exist. In cases of a white racial profile, the eating behavior was considered problematic 44% of the time. For Hispanic profiles, the behavior was considered problematic in 41% of the cases. Surprisingly, when the patient was identified as African American, the eating behavior was identified as problematic in only 17% of the cases. The study’s final results suggested that healthcare clinicians appear to hold race-based stereotypes about eating disorders that could limit their detection of symptoms in African-American girls.
The results of the 2006 study reinforced earlier research from 2002 which found that the race of adolescent girls had a significant impact on the detection of disturbed eating patterns. In this study, undergraduate college students recognized the existence of an eating disorder more often when they read about a Caucasian female, rather than when they read about a minority female (Hispanic or African American) with the same behavior.
National statistics indicate that eating disorders predominantly occur in white females, but many eating disorder professionals increasingly believe that the data is skewed. Women of color have likely been alienated from personal support networks. In addition, healthcare professionals use to believe that African-American and Hispanic women were somehow more immune to eating disorders.
Until recently, people with an African American racial identify were underrepresented in treatment centers and research studies about eating disorders. Gathering quality data was more of a challenge due to societal misperceptions and prejudice. Now it is clear that perceptions of body image and disordered eating patterns are not just problems for young, white women.
Here is some additional information on eating disorders and minorities:
- Individuals of Hispanic descent were more likely to suffer from bulimia nervosa versus their non-Hispanic peers.
- Studies and news reports have found elevated rates of anorexia and other eating disorders among teenage girls in Orthodox Jewish communities.
- People of color with self-acknowledged eating and weight concerns were less likely than white participants to have been asked by healthcare providers about eating disorder symptoms, despite similar rates of eating disorder symptoms across ethnic groups.
- For American Indian/Native American, a significantly higher percentage of women reported disordered eating behaviors.
It is clear that eating disorders do not only occur in certain racial or socioeconomic groups. Race, ethnicity and/or socioeconomic status does not make individuals immune to these health conditions. In the past, eating disorders were primarily associated with heterosexual, young, white females. In fact, these mental health issues affect people from all demographics and ethnicities at similar rates. However, minority groups (particularly African Americans) are significantly less likely to receive help for eating disorder problems.
Regardless of one’s racial or ethnic identity, treating and recovering from an eating disorder takes time as well as professional help. An experienced mental health professional can help a person understand the origins of this behavior, whether it is an eating disorder as well as acquire coping skills.
For additional information or questions about this topic, please contact the staff at River Centre Clinic (RCC). Their Eating Disorders Programs provide a full range of treatment options for both adolescents and adults. The River Centre Clinic’s main phone number is 1.877.212.5457.
The EAT-26 is the most widely cited standardized self-report screening measure that may be able to help you determine if you have an eating disorder that needs professional attention. Take the EAT-26 now and get immediate and anonymous feedback.
Follow us on Twitter: @River_Centre
Eating Disorders, Minorities
Contributor: ABCS RCM