National Eating Disorders Association

Eating Disorders Don’t Discriminate.

Eating disorders were once thought to affect only a narrow portion of the population in the teens and early twenties, but we now know that they affect people of every age, race, gender and socio-economic status. On this page you will find some information specific to males, older patients and other groups that have been historically under-recognized. 

Hope comes in many forms. NEDA’s Stories of Hope show that it also comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, race and ethnicities, gender identities and sexual orientations, and languages as well. Find inspiration through the stories of the courageous men and women who have recovered and are now standing on the other side sharing their road to recovery with you.
View NEDA’s Stories of Hope


While women are more commonly affected by eating disorders, millions of men and boys battle all forms of the illness. The information in this section is specific to men and boys, but you will find a host of terms and topics under General Information. We recommend you start there and then augment your learning with the subjects covered here. Learn more.


Race, Ethnicity and Culture

Eating disorders have historically been associated with young, white women of privilege. However, this is a myth—eating disorders do not discriminate. While more research is needed in this area, we do know that the prevalence of eating disorders is similar among Non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asians in the United States, with the exception that anorexia nervosa is more common among Non-Hispanic Whites. Learn more.


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ)

The myriad of unique struggles related to sexuality and gender expression, such as coming out and harassment in schools or the workplace, can impact experiences of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, trauma and developing unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse - all of which are common co-occurring conditions or contributing factors in the development of an eating disorder. Learn more.


Older Populations

When eating disorders or body image conflicts are mentioned, the face we imagine is one of youth. It may be a preteen, an adolescent, or a young adult woman, but we rarely visualize an ageing face in that picture. Yet more and more older women, approaching or beyond “midlife,” are admitting that they also struggle with their bodies and their eating and are seeking professional help. Learn more.


Size Diversity

Body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness are among the most well-known risk factors for eating disorders. The impossible standards of beauty held up by mainstream media only contribute to their development and the myth that health can be determined by someone’s weight. A person’s shape and size is largely determined by one’s genetics. Learn more.