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Body Image and Eating Disorders

Compared to straight men, gay men are more likely to diet and binge eat and  they may even be at greater risk for eating disorders than straight women[6]. One contributing factor is that the gay subculture tends to emphasize the idealized hyper-masculine male physique. The pursuit of this ideal can lead to excessive exercise and the use of substances such as anabolic steroids and certain supplements that can adversely affect health. [7]

Adolescents and young adults presenting with an eating disorder may have an underlying conflict related to sexual orientation. [1]

Healthcare providers should ask their LGBT clients about:

  • body image

  • history of dieting

  • excessive exericse

  • use of diet products and supplements

  • and whether they feel pressures within the LGBT community to conform to certain notions of body image.



1. Peterkin A, Risdon C. Caring for Lesbian and Gay People: A Clinical Guide. 2003. University of Toronto Press Incorporated. Toronto, Ontario.

6. Lee R. Health care problems of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients. Western Journal of Medicine. 2000;172:403-408.

7. Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA). 2002. Ten things gay men should discuss with their health care providers. accessed: February 9, 2006

All references for this section