Trends and disparities in disordered eating among heterosexual and sexual minority adolescents

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Objective: Disordered eating has decreased for all youth over time, but studies have not focused specifically on lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth. Research has found that LGB youth report disordered eating behaviors more often compared to their heterosexual counterparts, but no studies have documented trends over time for LGB youth and considered whether these disparities are narrowing or widening across sexual orientation groups. Method: We use pooled data from the 1999 to 2013 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (N = 26,002) to investigate trends in purging, fasting, and using diet pills to lose or control weight for heterosexual and sexual minority youth. We used crosstabs, logistic regression, and interactions in regression models, stratified by sex. Results: The prevalence of disordered eating has decreased on all three measures across nearly all groups of heterosexual and sexual minority youth. However, we found disparities in reported disordered eating behaviors for LGB youth persisted across all survey years, with LGB students reporting significantly higher prevalence of disordered eating than heterosexuals. The disparities in fasting to control weight widened between the first and last survey waves between lesbian adolescents and heterosexual females. Discussion: The significant reductions over time in prevalence of disordered eating among some youth are encouraging, but the disparities remain. Indeed, the increasing prevalence of fasting, diet pill use, and purging to control weight among lesbians may warrant targeted prevention and intervention programs. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2017; 50:22–31)

AuthorWatson, Ryan J.; Adjei, Jones; Saewyc, Elizabeth; Homma, Yuko & Goodenow, Carol
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders

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