Gender differences in eating disorder symptoms in young adults

Int J Eat Disord. 2002 Dec;32(4):426-40. doi: 10.1002/eat.10103.


Objective: The major goal of this study was to identify problematic eating behaviors and attitudes in young men and compare them with those of young women.

Method: A community sample of young adults (n = 1,056) completed a questionnaire that contained the Drive for Thinness, Bulimia, and Body Dissatisfaction subscales of the Eating Disorder Inventory, as well as probes for inappropriate compensatory behaviors, excessive exercise, and episodes of binge eating.

Results: A five-factor structure fit both male and female samples. Women had substantially elevated scores on all of the factors except excessive exercise, for which men had significantly higher scores. The absolute proportion of men and women wanting or having sought treatment was very low. However, at comparable levels of problematic eating behaviors, women were more likely to have sought treatment than men.

Discussion: The questionnaire used in this study encompasses symptoms outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders symptoms, which should prove useful in future research.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Anorexia Nervosa / etiology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / psychology*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Body Image
  • Bulimia / diagnosis
  • Bulimia / etiology
  • Bulimia / psychology*
  • Bulimia / therapy
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oregon
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women / psychology*