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Eating Disorder Awareness for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ Communities

Posted on
February 24, 2023

Eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of age, sexuality, race, or body type. And yet, people in certain demographics groups are more likely to experience an eating disorder, and significantly less likely to receive treatment when they need it.

Because of this, it’s important to understand the role eating disorders play in your community, and remain aware of the signs and symptoms to watch out for. Early detection is one of the key factors that can improve a person’s chance of recovering from an eating disorder.

Certain segments of the BIPOC community are much more likely to exhibit disordered eating behaviors than their white counterparts.

Eating Disorders in BIPOC Communities

Certain segments of the BIPOC community are much more likely to exhibit disordered eating behaviors than their white counterparts. In particular, Black teenagers are 50% more likely to exhibit bulimic behavior like binging and purging, and 48% of Indigenous teens report that they’re attempting to lose weight.

Binge eating disorder is also more prevalent across all minority groups.

In spite of these stats, people of color who acknowledge they have eating and weight concerns are significantly less likely to have a doctor ask them about eating disorder symptoms. This disparity is especially pronounced for Black women.

In one study, clinicians given identical case studies of disordered eating symptoms in white, Hispanic, and Black women only identified the problematic behavior 17% of the time for Black women, compared to 44 and 41% of the time for white and Hispanic women.

Eating Disorders in LGBTQ+ Communities

Research on the prevalence of eating disorders in LGBTQ+ communities is limited, but the existing data suggests that gay men are significantly more likely to have eating disorders than straight men. In fact, 42% of men with eating disorders identify as gay.

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals are also more likely to report bulimic behaviors and binge eating.

The Role of Therapy in Eating Disorder Recovery

For individuals experiencing an eating disorder or disordered eating habits, therapy can be a valuable tool on your journey to recovery. Unfortunately, people of color experiencing eating disorders and other mental illnesses struggle to access the care they need.

At Hurdle, we’re on a mission to change that with quality mental healthcare that makes everyone feel seen, heard, and understood. We work with a diverse group of therapists, each with their own unique specialities and areas of interest. If you’re interested in receiving therapy for an eating disorder, you can sign up today to get paired with a Hurdle therapist. Simply fill out the application at this link, and make sure to mention that you’re interested in therapy for an eating disorder.

Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

When talking about eating disorders, it’s important to keep in mind that these conditions are complex and may present themselves differently in different people. The symptoms of an eating disorder will likely vary based on the specific condition someone is experiencing. These conditions are:

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Orthorexia
  • Other specified feeding or eating disorder
  • Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder
  • Pica
  • Rumination disorder

Plus, many people who engage in disordered eating habits might not necessarily meet the criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis.

However, there are certain behavioral changes that the National Eating Disorder Association has identified as common signs of eating disorders. Keep an eye out for:

  • Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, and dieting
  • Refusal to eat certain categories of food
  • Discomfort with eating around others
  • Food rituals
  • Frequent dieting
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Compulsive exercise
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities

NEDA also provides a full list of symptoms and warning signs on their site.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms of an eating disorder, remember that no one has to struggle alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask your friends, coworkers, and family how they’re really doing. And if someone you know tells you they’re experiencing an eating disorder, make sure to remind them of all the resources available to them, including culturally intentional therapy.

If your organization is interested in partnering with Hurdle to provide culturally responsive therapy to your employees, please click here to learn more and get in touch.

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