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Eating Disorders Health Center

Study Shows Eating Disorders Are Colorblind

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Striegel-Moore says that the results of the study challenge the widely held view that black women are immune to developing eating disorders. "The real importance of our study is that we included a large number of black women, we used standardized questions, and used the same approach for both black and white women. Doing all that, we showed that clearly black women have this problem", Striegel-Moore tells WebMD.

Physicians should ask obese patients about their eating habits as a way of screening for the presence of an eating disorder, says Striegel-Moore. She believes many doctors are reluctant to intrude into their patients' privacy. "My experience is that people tend to be quite willing to volunteer the information when asked", she says.

Susan Z. Yanovski, MD, director of the Obesity and Eating Disorders program at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Bethesda, Md., believes that physicians should be on 'high alert' to identify people with eating disorders. In an interview seeking objective commentary, Yanovski tells WebMD, "If you ask patients in a nonthreatening way, they'll actually be somewhat relieved that someone is actually recognizing they have a problem ... People who do have problems with binge eating generally feel pretty bad about it. By letting them know they are not alone, this is actually a disorder, and there's help available, you can be doing patients a great service."

Vital Information:

  • A new study dispels the myth that eating disorders are a white woman's disease.
  • Black women were just as likely as white women to report binge eating or self-induced vomiting, and were more likely than whites to report recurrent binge eating.
  • Recurrent binge eaters, regardless of race, tended to be overweight and to exhibit symptoms of psychiatric distress.
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