Study Finds Link Between Eating Disorders, Sexual Orientation

Young women attracted to both sexes or who are unsure about who they are attracted to are more likely to develop an eating disorder than those attracted to only one sex, according to a new study from Drexel University and a MedicalXPress report.

However, the results of the study suggest that females attracted to the same-sex are no more likely to experience eating disorder symptoms than their peers with opposite-sex attractions. This finding is contrary to previous assumptions that same-sex attraction plays a protective role against eating pathology in females.

The study also found that men who were attracted to other males or both sexes had higher rates of eating disorders than males only attracted to the opposite sex, which is supported by previous research.

The study, “The Relationship between Disordered Eating and Sexuality amongst Adolescents and Young Adults,” is now available online and will appear in a forthcoming print issue of Eating Behaviors, an international peer-reviewed scientific journal publishing human research on the etiology, prevention and treatment of obesity, binge eating and eating disorders in adults and children.

In order to examine disordered eating symptoms and sexuality in adolescents and young adults, the researchers recruited participants from ten primary care sites in Pennsylvania and administered a Behavioral Health Screen — a web-based screening tool that assesses psychiatric symptoms and risk behaviors — during a routine visit. More than 2,000 youths, ages 14-24, were surveyed, MedicalXPress reports.

Women who were unsure of whom they were attracted to reported the highest disordered eating symptoms scores of all, researchers said.
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