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Eating disorders DON’T discriminate!

Contrary to the common stereotype of having an eating disorder, eating disorders affect all races, genders, ethnicities, ages, and sexual orientations. The popular culture has deemed the eating disorder stereotype to be a White women suffering with anorexia. This stereotype has resulted in those that do not fall into this stereotype, such as the Black population to receive under-diagnosis, under-treatment, and have the lack to receive help for their disordered eating issues. There are many other eating disorders that exist besides anorexia, i.e., bulimia, binge eating disorder, orthorexia, OSFED, etc. Those besides anorexia seem to be researched the least because they do not fall into the popular culture stereotype that anorexia is the most significant eating disorder.

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week will take place this year during the week of February 21-27th, 2022. With National Eating Disorder Awareness Week falling during Black History Month, it’s time that we shed light on the prevalence of eating disorders in the Black community.

Here are some shocking statistics and facts to support that the prevalence of eating disorders in the Black community are on the rise and need not to be ignored:

1The lifetime prevalence rates found for bulimia in Black Americans is 1.5% for adults, which is slightly higher than the national average of 1.0%.

2. Black LGBs have at least as high a prevalence of eating disorders as white LGBs.

3. Between 2017 and 2020, there was a 216% rise in the number of Black people being admitted to hospital due to eating disorders.

4. When presented with identical case studies demonstrating disordered eating symptoms in White, Hispanic and African-American women, clinicians were asked to identify if the woman’s eating behavior was problematic. 44% identified the White woman’s behavior as problematic; 41% identified the Hispanic woman’s behavior as problematic, and only 17% identified the Black woman’s behavior as problematic. The clinicians were also less likely to recommend that the African-American woman should receive professional help.

Goeree, Michelle Sovinsky and Ham, John C. and Iorio, Daniela, Race, Social Class, and Bulimia Nervosa. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5823.

Henrickson, H. C., Crowther, J. H., & Harrington, E. F. (2010). Ethnic identity and maladaptive eating: expectancies about eating and thinness in African American women. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 16, 87-93.

Jackson, J.S., et al. (2004). The national survey of American life: A study of racial, ethnic, and cultural influences on mental disorders and mental health. Int J Methods Psychiatr Res,13,196–207.

Taylor, J.Y., et al. (2007). Prevalence of Eating Disorders among Blacks in the National Survey of American Life. Int J Eat Disord, 40(Suppl), S10–S14. doi: 10.1002/eat.20451

Thompson BW. A Way Outa No Way: Eating Problems among African-American, Latina, and White Women. Gender and Society.  1992;6: 546.

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