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Old 04-16-2007, 09:18 AM   #16
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NEW YORK (Reuters, Apr 11) -- Gay and bisexual men may be at far higher risk for eating disorders than heterosexual men, while women seem to be equally affected regardless of their sexual orientation, a new study suggests.

Researchers surveyed 516 New York City residents; 126 were straight men and the rest were gay or bisexual men and women. The results showed that more than 15% of gay or bisexual men had at some time suffered anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder, or at least certain symptoms of those disorders--a problem known as a "subclinical" eating disorder. That compared with less than 5% of heterosexual men, the researchers report in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

In contrast, sexual orientation did not seem to influence the risk of eating disorder symptoms among women. Just under 10% of lesbian and bisexual women had ever had a full-blown or subclinical eating disorder, as had 8% of heterosexual women.

It's not clear why men's sexual orientation may affect their vulnerability to eating disorders, according to the study authors, led by Dr. Matthew Feldman of the National Development and Research Institutes, a non-profit research organization in New York. Other studies have had similar findings, and one theory is that gay men have different ideals about physical appearance, and, similar to women, they may feel pressure to stay thin.

In their study, Feldman and colleague Dr. Ilan H. Meyer found an elevated eating disorder risk among men who were active in recreational groups, such as sports teams, that primarily included other gay or bisexual men. On the other hand, men who said they felt closely connected to the gay community had a lower risk of currently suffering eating disorder symptoms. This supports the theory that acceptance in the gay community boosts men's self-esteem and may offer a buffer against eating disorders, according to the researchers.

As for the findings in women, Feldman and Meyer say, they refute the notion that homosexual and bisexual women may be less vulnerable to body-image issues and eating disorders.

SOURCE: International Journal of Eating Disorders, April 2007.
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Old 04-16-2007, 10:07 AM   #17
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any flip through a gay magazine -- The Advocate, Out -- will reveal advertisements and models with bodies every bit as unattainable as any female image on television.
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Old 04-16-2007, 04:41 PM   #18
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One more reason why it's good to be a heterosexual man.
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Old 05-02-2007, 10:22 AM   #19
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on the flip side of this whole thing:

[q]Lesbians twice as likely to be obese

April 28, 2007 12:00

LESBIANS are twice as likely as heterosexual women to be overweight or obese, which puts them at greater risk for obesity-related health problems and death, US researchers said.

The report, published in the American Journal of Public Health, is one of the first large studies to look at obesity among lesbians.

Ulrike Boehmer of the Boston University School of Public Health and colleagues looked at a 2002 national survey of almost 6000 women, and found that lesbians were 2.69 times more likely to be overweight and 2.47 times more likely to be obese.

“Lesbians have more than twice the odds of (being) overweight,” the authors wrote.

This would put them at a higher risk for diabetes and heart disease, among other ailments.

“Our findings indicate that lesbian sexual identity is linked to a greater prevalence of overweight and obesity,” the authors wrote in the study, released this week.

They reviewed smaller studies that have suggested a higher prevalence of obesity among lesbians and the possible reasons why.

“The results of these studies indicate that lesbian women have a better body image than do heterosexual women,” they wrote.

But the authors said they placed little confidence in the idea that lesbians were more muscular than straight women, and thus were more likely to have a high body mass index, or BMI, while having little body fat.

High muscle mass is “unlikely to lead to classification as obese,” the researchers said.

“We reported greater odds of both overweight and obesity in lesbians and we feel confident in asserting that these differences are a result of increased adiposity,” the researchers wrote.[/q]



i find it very interesting how this is -- possibly -- the flip side of the same coin of learned self-hate. sure, it's nice that lesbians aren't subjected to the near-impossible body standards that straight women and gay men are subjected to, but obesity isn't a cosmetic issue, it's a health issue.
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Old 05-02-2007, 11:49 AM   #20
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Originally posted by Irvine511
on the flip side of this whole thing:

[q]Lesbians twice as likely to be obese


They reviewed smaller studies that have suggested a higher prevalence of obesity among lesbians and the possible reasons why.

“The results of these studies indicate that lesbian women have a better body image than do heterosexual women,” they wrote.

I don't get how obesity in lesbians indicates that lesbians have a better body image? Am I reading that wrong?
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Old 05-02-2007, 11:52 AM   #21
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Originally posted by joyfulgirl


I don't get how obesity in lesbians indicates that lesbians have a better body image? Am I reading that wrong?


my guess is that it means that lesbians tend to feel happier with the bodies they have than do straight women, so there's not as much of an obsession with diet and exercise.

but i'm not sure.
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Old 05-03-2007, 06:55 PM   #22
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Skimming over the study online (.pdf), the authors don't themselves seem to suggest any correlation between obesity and and a "better body image" (in fact, I couldn't find that phrase in there; rather that "lesbians have somewhat different norms or preferences for body weight than heterosexual women", based on other studies referenced, not their own). And they did note that, like heterosexual women, their subjects mostly held accurate perceptions of their own weight (this is different, of course, from noting their feelings about it, which unfortunately they didn't inquire into)--i.e., if they were medically overweight or obese they recognized it, and acknowledged it would be good for them to lose some weight. They also noted that at least one previous study had found a higher rate of binge-eating disorder among lesbians than among heterosexual women. So, their speculative conclusion seemed to be NOT that lesbians have a "better body image" and this leads to obesity, but rather that a combination of stress (possibly leading to increased binge-eating behavior) and lower responsiveness to the heterosexual female ideal of thinness for its own sake--a phenomenon also noted by other studies with African-American and Latina women, who were in fact *slightly* overrepresented in this study, though nowhere near enough to explain a more-than-twice-the-rate difference--might be to blame. They end by suggesting that weight-awareness public health efforts aimed at lesbians might do better to emphasize the desirability of being fit and eating healthy foods, rather than the desirability of being slender in itself.

Nothing earthshaking really, although the possibility that "active resistance" (as they put it) to heterosexual female body ideals might effectively leave lesbians undesirably unmotivated to eat healthily, avoid bingeing, and exercise is interesting. It perhaps raises some interesting questions about the extent to which heterosexuals (male and female) and gay men who claim to follow a healthy lifestyle "only for the sake of fitness, and not because I'm trying to please anyone" etc. are in fact being honest or accurate about the full scope of their motivations. That's not to say having a poor body image or chronic fear of "not measuring up" are desirable or good for you psychologically--as usual, I guess, it all comes down to balance. For better or for worse, in this country most of us have ample opportunity to live a sedentary life compounded by overconsumption of cheap, readily available high-calorie foods, so I guess by some means or another, it becomes necessary from a public health standpoint for disincentives to that to be developed and promoted; the question then becomes, which incentives are realistically going to have maximal effect for which people and with minimal adverse consequences for mental health, demands on time and money, etc.
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Old 05-03-2007, 08:10 PM   #23
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yolland, you're so skilled at analyzing information for the meaningful points and summarizing them into cohesive, well-written paragraphs. everything you post is intelligent and objective. your students are lucky.
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Old 05-04-2007, 01:10 AM   #24
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Well thank you VG, I really appreciate that. Not to overidealize, but this is one of the things I love about FYM--most of the stuff we're discussing here, even when "hot-button", is complex enough to objectively analyze a bit, which (usually) helps put the brakes on the more raw-personality-conflict kind of stuff. Like which haircut best flatters Bono, for example.
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Old 04-22-2008, 01:03 AM   #25
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John Prescott admits bulimia

by Sam Jones
The Guardian (UK), April 21 2008


John Prescott was praised by eating disorder experts yesterday for his "brave" admission that he had struggled with bulimia for two decades. In his forthcoming autobiography, the former deputy prime minister and MP for Hull East reveals that the stress of political life led him to seek comfort in food and then force himself to throw up. Prescott says he began suffering from bulimia in the 1980s, when the pressure of being in the Labour shadow cabinet became overwhelming.

"I'm sure it was to do with stress," he wrote in yesterday's Sunday Times, which is to serialise his memoirs. "I wasn't doing it all the time, and there would be gaps of weeks and months, but during those years when we first got into power, I let things get on top of me and took refuge in stuffing my face." He added: "I've never confessed it before. Out of shame, I suppose, or embarrassment--or just because it's such a strange thing for someone like me to confess to. People normally associate it with young women--anorexic girls, models trying to keep their weight down, or women in stressful situations, like Princess Diana."

Although Prescott tried to hide the illness from his wife, Pauline, she realised what was going on. "The signs in the toilet gave it away, and all the missing food." She urged him to see a doctor and a consultant eventually diagnosed him with bulimia. "I turned up and found his waiting room full of young women. I was the only man there. I felt a right twerp. Luckily none of them shopped me to the press." In the book, he also reveals that despite preferring food to alcohol, he would occasionally drink to relieve the stress and to let people know how low he was feeling.

Prescott, who resigned as deputy prime minister last June and will retire as an MP at the next election, is now supporting an NHS campaign to raise awareness of eating disorders.

The eating disorder support charity Beat said Prescott's decision to speak out had shown considerable courage. "It will help other people to firstly realise that men can be affected by eating disorders, and you can get help and treatment--even if you have been ill for a very long time," said the charity's chief executive, Susan Ringwood. "It is a brave thing to do because people do feel ashamed of themselves and find it really hard even to tell close family members."

Although girls and young women aged between 12 and 20 account for 80% of new cases of eating disorders, boys and men are also affected. "It is probably under-diagnosed--even a doctor doesn't necessarily think it can affect a boy or a man," said Ringwood. "Anybody could have this condition, including people who are in the public eye. People absolutely shouldn't be ashamed. We need to get past that huge stigma that is associated with an eating disorder."

Dr Ty Glover, a consultant psychiatrist and expert on eating disorders, described Prescott's revelation as "a hugely brave and courageous thing". He added: "It's hard enough for a young girl to confess to, but for a high-profile male politician approaching 70, it's especially impressive."

Glover said he had never before come across a man of Prescott's age with bulimia. "It seriously makes me think that maybe we're completely missing a whole audience of middle-aged men who are too scared to admit they have a problem. John's bravery will hopefully encourage more men to stop suffering in silence and come forward to seek treatment."

John Prescott is one of the few high-profile men to admit having problems with bulimia. In 1993, Elton John successfully sued the Sunday Mirror for £350,000 after it appeared to question his recovery from the disease by reporting that he had been seen spitting chewed food into a napkin at a party. He told the high court that he was a drug addict and alcoholic for 16 years and a bulimic for six years until he was cured after six weeks of treatment at a Chicago hospital in 1990.

Psychic celebrity Uri Geller also battled the disease, which he said he eventually overcame through willpower...Sportsmen have also fallen victim to the illness. Former football star Paul Gascoigne would binge on ice cream and then throw up when he was at a low ebb. In his autobiography, which was published last year, the formula one driver David Coulthard wrote about his struggle with the condition. "In my mind the only way I could keep my weight down was by making myself vomit...I stopped eating fattening food and, before I knew what had happened, I was bulimic."

More male celebrities have admitted to having anorexia and other eating disorders. They include the actor Dennis Quaid, the missing Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards, who penned the song 4st 7lbs, and Elvis Presley, whose problems with food are well-documented.
^ Never heard of Presley "admitting to having" an eating disorder, but at any rate, good for Prescott for helping to break a taboo.
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