Gender and help-seeking for an eating disorder: findings from a general population sample

Priyanka Thapliyal*, Deborah Mitchison, Jonathan Mond, Phillipa Hay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study aimed to compare gender differences in eating disorder (ED) features and to examine the role of gender as a predictor of ED help-seeking controlling for other putative determinants, namely weight/shape overvaluation, age, BMI, and impairment in role functioning. Methods: Demographic, ED symptoms, and related data were collected during household interviews of individuals aged ≥ 15 years. One hundred and forty-eight participants (164 after data were weighted) with an ED syndrome were identified. Results: Compared to women, men with an ED were younger and had lower levels of purging and overvaluation. However, men and women with an ED had similar levels of functional impairment, binge eating and strict dieting. In univariate analyses, males in general, but not males with an ED, were significantly less likely than females to seek help for an ED. In multivariate analysis of people with an ED, only BMI was significantly associated with treatment-seeking. Conclusion: Functional health impairment and common ED behaviours were similar for men and women with EDs. Gender may not be a primary reason to be more or less likely to seek help for an ED. Rather, other features, most notably, a higher BMI, appear to be stronger predictors of ED-specific help-seeking. Level of evidence: Level V, cross-sectional descriptive study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215–220
Number of pages6
JournalEating and Weight Disorders
Issue number1
Early online date31 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • eating disorder
  • help-seeking
  • males
  • females


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