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Disordered eating behaviors among transgender youth

Youth Mental Health & Wellbeing
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Authors: Watson, R. J., Veale, J. F., & Saewyc, E. M.

Date of publication: 2017

Journal: The International Journal of Eating Disorders

Summary: This Canadian study looked at the relationship between disordered eating and risk and protective factors for trans young people using health survey information from 923 participants aged 14-25 years. The researchers found high rates of eating disorders in this group. Nearly half of the 14-18 year olds and more than a third of the 19-25 year olds engaged in behaviours such as binge eating, fasting and using pills, laxatives or vomiting to lose weight. Binge eating and fasting were the most common behaviours, with both behaviours reported by around 35-45% of the participants. Vomiting was reported by almost 1 in 5 of the 14-18 year olds. When compared with figures from a similar study looking at eating disorders in the general youth population, the researchers found that 27% of young people reported binge eating (compared with 42% in this study by Watson and colleagues) and 5% reported vomiting to lose weight (compared with 18% in this study by Watson and colleagues).

The researchers found that enacted stigma (the higher rates of harassment and discrimination that trans young people face) was linked to a higher chance of reported past year binge eating and fasting or vomiting to lose weight. Importantly, they found several factors protected against disordered eating including family connectedness, school connectedness, caring friends, and social support. When participants reported having these factors in their life, they also reported lower chances of past year disordered eating. For 14-18 year olds, family connectedness was particularly linked with the lowest chance of disordered eating.

You can read the full study here