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Factors Associated With Disordered Eating Among Sexually Active Adolescent Males: Gender and Number of Sexual Partners

Ackard, Diann M. PhD; Fedio, Gregory MPH; Neumark-Sztainer, Dianne PhD, MPH; Britt, Heather R. PhD

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e318164230c
Original Articles

Objective: To examine the prevalence of disordered eating behaviors among sexually active adolescent males by gender and number of sex partners, and examine psychosocial well-being by sex partner factors among boys reporting disordered eating.

Method: Data were collected from 10,095 9th and 12th grade Minnesota Student Survey participants who reported sexual intercourse in the past year.

Results: The use of any disordered eating behaviors was reported by 39.4% of the sexually active males reporting only female sex partners, 53.4% reporting only male sex partners, and 56.4% reporting both female and male sex partners. Rates of specific disordered eating behaviors were associated with higher numbers of sex partners (male and/or female) and same gender of sex partner, and were highest among those males who reported 3 or more of both genders of sex partners. Among sexually active males reporting disordered eating, poorer emotional well-being and less family connectedness were associated with greater number of partners and with same-sex partners.

Conclusions: Sexually active males, especially those with multiple and/or same-sex partners, may benefit from interventions targeted at reducing disordered eating behaviors. Among sexually active males engaging in disordered eating behaviors, enhancing emotional health and improving family connectedness may be beneficial, especially among those with sex partners of the same gender and/or with multiple sex partners. The identification of specific psychosocial characteristics that are commonly associated with sexually active adolescent males and who exhibit disordered eating behaviors may provide direction toward the development of appropriate early identification, prevention, and treatment efforts.

From the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health (D.M.A.), School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Eating Disorders Institute (G.F.), Methodist Hospital, St. Louis Park, Minnesota; Division of Epidemiology and Community Health (D.N.-S.), School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Performance Measurement and Analysis Department (H.R.B.), Allina Hospitals and Clinics, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Diann M. Ackard, 5101 Olson Memorial Highway, Suite 4001, Golden Valley, MN 55422. E-mail:

The authors have no conflicts of interest relevant to this manuscript. Heather R. Britt serves as the study statistical expert. Parts of this manuscript were presented as part of Mr. Fedio’s Master’s Thesis in Public Health at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, and were presented at the Academy for Eating Disorder’s 2005 International Conference on Eating Disorders, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Received for publication December 7, 2006; revision received September 26, 2007.

Copyright © 2008 by American Psychosomatic Society
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