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Eating Disorders Do Not Discriminate

Updated: Mar 14

In the past, eating disorders have been viewed as a disease only impacting young, heterosexual, white females. In reality, eating disorders affect everyone, regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, culture, size, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation.

Despite similar rates of eating disorders among non-Hispanic white, Hispanic, Black, and Asian people in the United States- people of color are significantly less likely to receive help for their eating issues. One of the reasons being that their symptoms are often overlooked by doctors, in part because of what they look like, not because of what they are experiencing.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), black teenagers are 50% more likely to show signs of bulimic behavior than white teenagers. Additionally, Hispanic teenagers were also found to have higher rates of bulimia compared to non-Hispanic teenagers. "The researchers also reported a trend towards a higher prevalence of binge eating disorder in all minority groups."

Read more statistics about people of color and how they are affected by eating disorders on NEDA's website, here.

In comparison to straight, cis-gendered people, queer and transgender people also have higher risks of being affected by an eating disorder (Corcione, 2021). The Journal of Eating Disorders published a literature review in 2020 that states,

"It has been found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) adults and adolescents are more likely to suffer from mental illness due to experiencing greater stress, caused by stigma and prejudice ... Overall, it was found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults and adolescents are more likely to experience eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors" (Parker & Harriger, 2020).

Read more of this literature review, here.

When it comes to men, higher rates of disordered eating behavior have been found in homosexual men, when compared to heterosexual men. In a study conducted by researchers at Harvard University, homosexual men were found to be 7 times more likely to report practicing bingeing behaviors. Compared to heterosexual males, it was also found that homosexual men were 12 times more likely to report practicing purging behaviors (Norton, 2009).

While it's easy to say that eating disorders do not discriminate, or eating disorders don't see color, these statements can oversimplify a complex issue. The statement is true- anyone and everyone can be, and are, impacted by disordered eating behaviors. However, more needs to be done and the conversation must continue.

In the blog, Beyond “Eating Disorders Don’t Discriminate” on The Emily Program's website, they state this issue perfectly:

"It is not enough to nod to the few statistics and studies about these disorders in marginalized communities, suggesting representation is inclusivity. Doing so in the context of our white-oriented field implies that the prototypical eating disorder experience is the Black experience as well. It applies our understanding of eating disorders in white women to Black people and other people of color and upholds the dominant white framework."

It's important to remember that while eating disorders can indeed affect anyone, everyone's experience is different, for different reasons.

We at White Pine Center for Healing are committed to ensuring ALL clients receive the greatest care possible. Additionally, we offer our education and prevention programs to any population. Learn more about what we offer, here.


If you're interested in reading more about the experiences of different demographics of people and how they are impacted by eating disorders, check out these resources as well as the sources used down below:


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Corcione, A. (2022, March 24). How eating disorders impact queer and trans people. Included Health. Retrieved

December 22, 2022, from


Michel, A. (2022, April 19). Beyond "eating disorders don't discriminate". The Emily Program. Retrieved

December 22, 2022, from


National Eating Disorders Association. (2018, February 21). Eating disorders in LGBTQ+ populations. National

Eating Disorders Association. Retrieved December 22, 2022, from

Norton, A. (2009, September 17). Gay, bisexual teens at risk for eating disorders. Reuters. Retrieved December

22, 2022, from

Parker, L. L., & Harriger, J. A. (2020). Eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors in the LGBT population:

A review of the literature. Journal of Eating Disorders, 8(1).

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