Gender differences in perceptions of the severity and prevalence of eating disorders

Jonathan M. Mond*, Anais Arrighi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aim: Gender differences in perceptions of the severity and prevalence of anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) were examined in young men (n=113) and women (n=289) recruited from a regional university campus in north-east Australia. Methods: Participants viewed vignettes of fictional (female) sufferers of AN and BN and responded to the same series of questions in relation to each vignette. Results: For both vignettes, a substantial minority of male, but not female, participants indicated that they would be a little or not at all sympathetic to someone with the problem described, that the problem described would be a little or not at all difficult to treat, and that having the problem described would be moderately or a little distressing. Men were also more likely than women to consider BN to be primarily a problem of 'lack of will-power/self-control'. Perceptions of the prevalence of AN (modal response='very few women/10% or less') and BN ('10% to 30%') did not differ by gender and both male and female participants considered AN to be more severe and less common than BN. Conclusions: The findings suggest that there may be a need to target the attitudes and beliefs of young men in particular in the prevention and early intervention initiatives for eating disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-49
Number of pages9
JournalEarly Intervention in Psychiatry
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011

Keywords

  • Eating disorders
  • Gender differences
  • Mental health literacy

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