Now Reading
Over half of all LGBT teens have an eating disorder

Over half of all LGBT teens have an eating disorder

Gay teens are more likely to have an eating disorder than straight teens

Over half of all LGBT teens have an eating disorder, according to a new survey.

This means they are 11 times more likely to be diagnosed with a disorder like anorexia or bulimia compared to straight kids.

Half of the LGBT youth who have not been diagnosed also suspect they have an eating disorder.

The research also found a connection between eating disorders and suicidal ideation.

Over half of all LGBT teens have an eating disorder

The survey was conducted by The Trevor Project, National Eating Disorders Association and Reasons Eating Disorder Center,

‘We were stunned by these results,’, said Amit Paley, The Trevor Project’s CEO and Executive Director.

‘We need to do far more to help the alarming number of LGBTQ youth living with eating disorders and struggling with thoughts of suicide.’

1,305 self-identified LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 24 from across the US were surveyed.

The report shows:

  • 54% of LGBTQ youth respondents reported having been diagnosed with an eating disorder compared to 5% of the heterosexual peers
  • Trans youth who identify as straight are the most at risk, with 71% of those having been diagnosed with an eating disorder, anorexia being the most common
  • There is a dangerous overlap in the consideration of suicide and eating disorders, with 58% of LGBTQ youth respondents who have been diagnosed with an eating disorder having considered suicide.

Over half of those diagnosed with an eating disorder have considered suicide

The results were released in conjunction with National Eating Disorders Association Awareness Week. It is held this year between 26 February and 4 March with the theme, Let’s Get Real.

Claire Mysko, CEO of NEDA, said: ‘The results make it clear that troubling numbers of LGBTQ youth are affected by eating disorders and self-harm.

‘Together, we are working to raise awareness and put live-saving resources into the hands of those in need.

‘It’s time to get real about these issues and ensure that everyone has access to the support they deserve.’

Portia De Rossi and Olly Alexander suffered from eating disorders as teens

In data released in 2016, examining US teens from 1999 to 2013, it found gay males are five times more likely to use diet pills compared to straight teens.

One-third of bisexual girls also reported purging, which stayed roughly the same from 1999 to 2013. The rate increased over the same period for lesbians.

Portia De Rossi, Ellen DeGeneres’ wife and star of Arrested Development, has spoken openly about suffering from anorexia and bulimia from the age of 12. She said she would often try to survive on only 300 calories a day.

‘I mean, I’m 12 years old. So then I vomit. Erase the feelings with food, erase the food by vomiting,’ she wrote in her book Unbearable Lightness.

‘But you’re still left with the shame.’

Growing Up Gay, Programme Name: Olly Alexander: Growing Up Gay - TX: 18/07/2017 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Olly Alexander - (C) Antidote Productions - Photographer: Duncan Stingemore
The Years and Years singer’s new BBC3 show shows the power of LGBTI Inclusive Sex Ed

Olly Alexander, a gay singer and part of the band Years & Years, has also opened up about his experiences with bulimia.

‘I found it so difficult to want to stop,’ he said.

Describing the condition he says: ‘It’s like your brain gets re-wired, it’s so hard to undo it.’