Health Care Screening
In no way does this mean that simply because of an individuals sexual orientation or gender identity, they will develop an eating disorder. However, due to the elevated risk, health professionals should ensure to screen for the presence of disordered eating behaviours.
The challenge is for health professionals to look past the eating disorder diagnostic standards. We know that for many individuals, risk factors such as low body mass index (BMI) is completely irrelevant. Individuals who live in a larger body or who may be pursuing a bigger, more muscular body instead of a leaner body, are missed. Disordered patterns can include rapid weight changes, hyperfocus on the body, obsessive patterns with food, excessive supplement use, steroid use, or other harmful strategies to manipulate the body.
Additionally, health professionals need to recognize that gender affirming surgeries and hormone therapy can directly impact a person’s weight status, body composition, blood pressure, blood sugars, and some blood work values. These changes must be taken in context and individualized medical assessment should be completed. That means that any approach or intervention taken should align with the stage of medical transition and duration of hormone therapy.
If an eating disorder is identified, the multidisciplinary approach has been shown to be most effective. The multidisciplinary team should include a medical doctor, registered dietitian, mental health professional, support persons, and any other health professional indicated for individualized treatment.