Sexual orientation and eating psychopathology: The role of masculinity and femininity

Caroline Meyer, Jacqueline Blissett, Claire Oldfield

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    87 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: Previous research suggests that eating disorders are related to homosexuality in men, although links with female sexual orientation are less clear. Appearance factors have generally been implicated in this relationship. However, previous studies have failed to consider the role of femininity, even though evidence suggests that this is a more critical factor than sexual preference. The aim of this study was to consider the relationship between gender-role orientation and eating psychopathology in nonclinical men and women of different sexual orientations. Method: One hundred university students (40 homosexual; 60 heterosexual) completed the Bem Sex Role Inventory and the Eating Attitudes Test. Results: For the group as a whole, there were links between femininity and high levels of eating psychopathology, whereas masculinity was associated with relatively healthy eating-related attitudes and behaviors. When considering the role of sexual orientation, these links were specific to homosexual men and women. Conclusions: In relation to homosexual men and women, the results support a model where femininity might be seen as a specific risk factor for eating disorders, whereas masculinity is likely to be a protective factor. Methodological and conceptual implications are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)314-318
    Number of pages5
    JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
    Issue number3
    Early online date16 Mar 2001
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


    • Eating psychopathology
    • Femininity
    • Masculinity
    • Sexual orientation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine (miscellaneous)
    • Psychiatry and Mental health
    • Food Science
    • Psychology(all)
    • Clinical Psychology


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