Study: Eating Disorders Five Times More Likely in Transgender College Students

Via Shutterstock

Via Shutterstock

A disturbing new study out of Washington University at St. Louis examined trends in eating disorders between transgender and cisgender college students, and the results are published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The study’s authors found that “transgender students responded that they had been diagnosed with an eating disorder in the past year at an alarming rate of 15.82%. Cisgender students were between .55% (heterosexual men) and 3.66% (unsure men). Cisgender sexual minority and unsure men and women were 2-4 times more likely to have been diagnosed with an eating disorder than heterosexual men and women.”

The results were based on surveying 289,024 students from 233 American colleges and universities. The survey also examined diet-pill usage and found that “transgender students (13.5%) also reported much higher usage rates than heterosexual men (1.88%) and heterosexual women (4.29%).”

The study’s lead author, Dr. Alexis E. Duncan, offered several reasons behind the results:

“Transgender individuals may use disordered eating behaviors to suppress or accentuate particular gendered features. It has been suggested that striving for weight loss may be a way for transgender women to conform to feminine ideals of slimness and attractiveness…Among lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals, a strong link has been found between higher levels of minority stress and poorer mental health outcomes. The same mechanisms are likely at play in transgender individuals, who may be exposed to substantial amounts of discrimination, both on an interpersonal and societal level.”

You can read the full study here.