Why homosexuality is a risk factor for eating disorders in males

H.J. Hospers*, A.T.M. Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

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There is a typical overrepresentation of homosexual males in clinical eating disorder samples. The present study investigated the role of gender role orientation, peer pressure, self-esteem, and body dissatisfaction in relation to eating disorder symptoms among a sample of homosexual men and a sample of heterosexual men. The results show that most variables were highly interrelated. However, using multivariate regression analyses it was found that body dissatisfaction, and not self-esteem, was the dominant predictor of eating disorder symptoms. For both heterosexual and homosexual men, a higher level of body dissatisfaction was related to higher Body Mass Index (BMI), more peer pressure, and lower masculinity scores. In addition, an interaction of sexual orientation and peer pressure was found: the relationship between peer pressure and body dissatisfaction was substantially more pronounced among homosexual men. Finally, associations between eating disorder symptoms on the one hand and sexual orientation, gender role orientation and peer pressure on the other hand, became non-significant when taking body dissatisfaction into account. The results show the central role of body dissatisfaction in the relationship between homosexuality and eating disorder symptoms, as well as the contribution of peer pressure. Directions for future research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1188-1201
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005


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