Tag - Research

LGBTQ Youth & Eating Disorders - River Centre Clinic

Why Are Eating Disorders More Common in the LGBTQ Community?

Eating disorders have long been a problem in the United States. These disorders have been part of the psychiatric literature for many years. In recent decades, psychiatrists and other healthcare professionals have allocated more time and resources towards the study, treatment and prevention of these disorders. Recent studies are attempting to explain a particular pattern of eating disorders in U.S. society. Researchers have found that more than half of young LGBTQ people between the ages of 13 and 24 have been diagnosed with an eating disorder.

Both the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA),  and The Trevor Project, (LGBTQ suicide prevention organization) state that the report is based on online surveys of 1,034 young people. Among the 46 percent of LGBTQ youth who were surveyed and had never been diagnosed with an eating disorder, 54 percent reported that they at some point suspected they suffered from an undiagnosed eating disorder. Out of all the survey’s respondents, 75 percent said they had either been diagnosed with an eating disorder or suspected they had one at some point in their life. This research displays the need for additional studies in this area.

The most common disordered eating behavior from the survey was skipping meals and eating very little food in general. Not surprisingly, anorexia nervosa was the most prevalent eating disorder. The data also displayed a correlation between young LGBTQ individuals with eating disorders and suicide. Out of the individuals who had been diagnosed with bulimia, a shocking 96 percent had considered suicide. On a similar note, 66 percent of survey respondents who had stated that they had considered suicide already had been diagnosed with an eating disorder.

An earlier study in 2007 had explored at the prevalence of eating disorders in lesbian, gay and bisexual men and women. Part of the research examined associations between participation in the LGBTQ community and eating disorder prevalence in gay and bisexual men. The research was not clear as to why there was a high prevalence of eating disorders among gay and bisexual men. Researchers in this study found that gay and bisexual men had a significantly higher incidence of eating disorders when compared to heterosexual men.

Studies in 2007 were the first to assess DSM diagnostic categories, gay and bisexual men had a significantly higher prevalence of lifetime full syndrome bulimia, subclinical bulimia, and any subclinical eating disorder. At the time, gay men are thought to only represent 5 percent of the total male population in the United States. Yet, for males who have been diagnosed with an eating disorder, 42 percent of them identify as gay. For people who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or mostly heterosexual, they possessed binge eating, purging and laxative abuse rates that were much higher than their heterosexual peers. Data shows that for LGBTQ youth, as early as age 12, they are at a higher risk of engaging in disordered eating behavior.

So why is there a higher occurrence of eating disorders in the LGBTQ community?

Some researchers argue that because of stress from living as a minority, unhealthy eating habits are more common in the LGBTQ community. Eating behaviors such as binge eating and anorexia nervosa are symptoms of the general social stress that LGBTQ individuals experience as minorities. Thankfully, new studies and technology are making it easier to understand the physical impulses that surround unhealthy eating behaviors. Also, a broader acceptance of LGBTQ people in American culture should hopefully lower this statistic. The election of the first openly gay governor in Colorado shows that U.S. society is changing.

However, there are still unique stressors that people in the LGBTQ community are forced to face every day. These stressors create higher levels of anxiety and depression. This, in turn, can encourage unhealthy coping mechanisms that creates eating disorders and/or substance abuse. Some of the stressors that may encourage the development of eating disorders include:

  • Internalizing negative messages.
  • Living in fear from being harassed which can develop into PTSD.
  • Stress from discrimination.
  • Living as a runaway and/or experiencing homelessness.

Healthcare professionals who have direct experience with diagnosing and treating eating disorders can help people successfully recover from an eating disorder infliction. For additional information or questions about bulimia and anorexia, 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. Their facility is located Northwest Ohio in the town of Sylvania, OH.

Follow on Twitter:  @River_Centre

LGBTQ, Eating Disorders, Anorexia Nervosa
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Outside Yoga Class (River Centre Clinic)

Can Yoga Help Treat Eating Disorders?

Yoga, Eating Disorders,

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 1990s, 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. As of 2011, according to the Huffington Post and the National Eating Disorder Association, approximately 33 percent of male athletes are affected by eating disorders who participate in aesthetic sports and weight-class sports. But what if some physical activities actually decreased the occurrence or actually provided effective treatment for eating disorders?

Newer research is studying whether certain physical activities such as yoga, provide effective treatment for eating disorder related illnesses. Yoga, originally a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline from India, as an activity is increasingly popular around the world. Yoga is popular in the United States as a hobby that promotes health and relaxation. The activity incorporates movement, body postures, breath control as well as meditation. The popularity of yoga has raised questions as to whether different styles of yoga can provide complementary therapy for patients who are receiving treatment for eating disorders.

A randomized controlled clinical trial study in 2009 attempted to discover what effects individualized yoga practice had on adolescent patients. These individuals were receiving outpatient treatment for diagnosed eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or eating disorder not otherwise specified). In this randomized study, out of 50 girls and 4 boys, the group that was participating in yoga experienced a greater decrease in eating disorders. The participates who were receiving non-yoga activities showed some initial decline, but then returned to baseline levels after 12 weeks. In this study, the yoga treatment did not have a negative effect on BMI, but the overall therapeutic approach was seen as holding promise as an adjunctive therapy to standard care.

Research in 2016 also asked the question as to whether the practice of yoga provided positive results in an outpatient setting. Specifically, in treating anxiety, depression and body image disturbances among adolescents with eating disorders. In this study, researchers concluded that outpatients eating disorder therapies combined with yoga practice showed decrease levels of anxiety, depression, and body image disturbances. Like the earlier 2009 study, the practice of yoga was seen as a beneficial treatment strategy when blended with multidisciplinary care. However, researchers did add that further study was needed on treatments approaches that presented yoga as a standard element of outpatient eating disorder therapy.

More recent studies from 2018 are continuing to research the application of yoga as a treatment strategy.  A small randomized control trial investigated the impact of an 11- week yoga program for women who were diagnosed with bulimia nervosa or other not specified eating disorders. Interestingly, this small study found that the women experienced benefits from yoga for months after the original research. A more detailed and larger study is planned in collaboration with the University of Buffalo. Like earlier research, this study will document the impact of regular yoga practice as a viable eating disorder treatment. Researchers in this study did note that examining eating disorders is challenging due to the fact that most yoga-eating disorder studies have few participants, short duration window as well as other design challenges. This two-year study will provide eating disorder researchers with an opportunity to collect data on an established, manualized yoga program that serves hundreds of individuals in community, educational and medical settings.

For additional questions about the use of yoga practice to supplement the treatment of eating disorders, please contact the staff at River Centre Clinic. The clinic’s mission is to provide specialized and cost-effective treatment for individuals suffering from eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and other eating disorders). An innovative approach to treatment is designed to reduce costs without compromising a high quality of care. They follow a well-established therapy model for treating eating disorders that integrates individual, group, and family therapy. For real-time feedback, their EAT-26 (Eating Attitudes Test) assessment provides anonymous and instant feedback about a variety of eating-related health conditions.

Follow on Twitter:  @River_Centre

Yoga, Eating Disorders

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