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Gender identity, race/ethnicity and eating pathology in a treatment-seeking community sample

Sasha Gorrell, Daniel Le Grange, Dan V. Blalock, Philip S. Mehler, Craig Johnson, Jamie Manwaring, Alan Duffy, Emma Huston, Susan McClanahan, Renee D. Rienecke. Gender identity, race/ethnicity and eating pathology in a treatment-seeking community sample, Journal of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy, Volume 31, Issue 1, 2021, Pages 77-89, ISSN 2589-9791

Introduction

The Eating Recovery Center Research Team, including Daniel Le Grange, Dan V. Blalock, Philip S. Mehler, Craig Johnson, Jamie Manwaring, Alan Duffy, Susan McClanahan and Renee D. Rienecke, collaborated with Sasha Gorrell and Emma Huston to examine the patterns of how some gender identities and ethnicities will seek treatment for eating disorder behaviors while others may not. Learn more about our research team here.

Abstract

Despite the wide-reaching impact of eating disorders (EDs), less is known about eating pathology among individuals across racial/ethnic groups whose gender identity differs from the binary categorization. Examining ED pathology both across binary and minority-gender groups, and relative to racial/ethnic identification is necessary to inform screening and culturally sensitive intervention efforts. 

This study investigated patterns of ED symptomology among youth and adults (N = 13658) who telephoned treatment centers in the United States when seeking clinical support for ED symptoms. Analyses examined data from participants who completed a semi-structured clinical interview. Results indicated that anorexia nervosa was the most common diagnosis in each gender category and for a majority of race/ethnic groups; Black individuals had elevated rates of binge eating disorder. Compared to females, males were less likely to endorse all ED symptoms (ps < .001); gender minority status was also associated with decreased report of a majority of ED symptoms. Asian and Black individuals were less likely than Whites to endorse most ED symptoms. When compared to Whites, Hispanic/Latinx and Bi/Multi-racial participants did not demonstrate significant differences in presentation across a majority of ED symptoms. 

Overall findings suggest individuals with female gender and White race may seek treatment from an ED treatment facility with greater frequency than other demographic groups. Noted exceptions include Hispanic/Latinx and Bi/Multi-racial individuals, for whom ED pathology may be represented comparably to Whites. While findings confirm traditional patterns in gender and racial/ethnic representation in EDs, current study findings also underscore that EDs are not culture bound. 

Read the full study here [https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2589979120300603

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbct.2020.11.006  

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