A new study of adolescent eating disorders in the U.S. finds that they are far more prevalent than previously believed, and that the gender gap between male and female adolescents was far smaller than previously found. The study has the largest sample size of any previous study of its kind, and is the first population-based study to include the full adolescent age range — over 10,000 teens aged 13 to 18.
The majority of adolescents in the study who had eating disorders were treated by mental health facilities for emotional or behavioral problems, though not necessarily for their eating disorder.
According to the study, which was kindly sent over to us in full,
"The sex ratio for most eating spectrum disorders in this study was generally smaller than that in prior treatment-seeking samples, and considerably smaller than the 9:1 ratio stated in the DSM-IV. The lack of a female preponderance of eating disorders could be attributable to either the methods of the present study or a true lack of a sex difference in eating disorders in adolescence. One indication that the difference may be genuine is provided by the large female to male ratio for [sub-threshold anorexia nervosa]."
We're all heard the unfortunate term "manorexia" and how the female-focused imagery of eating disorders may inhibit male eating disorder sufferers from seeking care; here's some definitive, unfortunate proof that this spectrum doesn't solely affect women.