“Latinx/e” is an inclusive term that rejects the gender binary whereas “Hispanic” refers to “people of Spanish-speaking origins.” Both terms generally refer to all ethnic groups in Latin America within the U.S and is often used to describe a population with a common cultural heritage and language.1 

  When considering the Latinx/e community, it is important to recognize the diverse cultures that encompass it. This becomes relevant in future considerations of treatment and provision of culturally relevant sensitive care for Latinx/e people with disordered eating. Disordered eating has notably been a misconception and stereotype. When picturing individuals with disordered eating, most generally reflect on media to bring up the stereotype of a white, heterosexual female. 

 However, eating disorders do not discriminate, and Latinx/e people are also impacted. In fact, eating disorders among Latinx/e people are at a similar or higher prevalence when compared to non-Latinx/e white people, though the rates of Latinx/e people seeking eating disorder treatment are significantly lower2. Still, research involving Latinx/e people in the U.S. is limited. 

There are several factors that influence the development of disordered eating among the Latinx/e community. This may include body dissatisfaction, sexual objectification, and body shame3. Evidence has also shown that food insecurity may have a role in perpetrating disordered eating behaviors4. In a study with a majority of Latinx/e participants, those experiencing the highest levels of food insecurity were reported to have significantly higher levels of binge eating and eating disorder (ED) pathology compared to those with lower levels of food insecurity4

Barriers to treatment among the Latinx/e population include a lack of bilingual healthcare providers and discrimination in the healthcare setting5. Additionally, mental illness is commonly stigmatized and has impacted care; in one study, Latinx/e people felt that seeking help for their eating struggle was silly and more of a personal matter6.   

Future research should be expanded to include all communities impacted by eating disorders, including Latinx/e communities, and address disparities in their access to care. Treatment in the future should consider diverse healthcare providers, which are also needed to ensure quality care. Additionally, the future of treatment for disordered eating must provide culturally relevant sensitive care by recognizing the variety of cultural beliefs and traditions that revolve around nutrition and diet. 

Eating Disorder Resources for the Latinx/e Community: 

https://yourlatinanutritionist.com

https://www.nalgonapositivitypride.com/eating-disorder-harm-reduction-community-circle-1

https://healthyhispanicliving.com/mental_health/

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/find-help-support?gclid=CP_7zanvob0CFY1xOgod920ANQ

Citations: 

1.González Burchard, E., Borrell, L. N., Choudhry, S., Naqvi, M., Tsai, H. J., Rodriguez-Santana, J. R., Chapela, R., Rogers, S. D., Mei, R., Rodriguez-Cintron, W., Arena, J. F., Kittles, R., Perez-Stable, E. J., Ziv, E., & Risch, N. (2005). Latino populations: a unique opportunity for the study of race, genetics, and social environment in epidemiological research. American journal of public health, 95(12), 2161–2168. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2005.068668 

2.Marques, L., Alegria, M., Becker, A. E., Chen, C. N., Fang, A., Chosak, A., & Diniz, J. B. (2011). Comparative prevalence, correlates of impairment, and service utilization for eating disorders across US ethnic groups: Implications for reducing ethnic disparities in health care access for eating disorders. The International journal of eating disorders44(5), 412–420. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.20787 

3.Velez, B. L., Campos, I. D., & Moradi, B. (2015). Relations of sexual objectification and racist discrimination with Latina women’s body image and mental health. The Counseling Psychologist43(6), 906-935. 

4.Becker, C. B., Middlemass, K., Taylor, B., Johnson, C., & Gomez, F. (2017). Food insecurity and eating disorder pathology. The International journal of eating disorders50(9), 1031–1040. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.22735 

5.Escobedo, L. E., Cervantes, L., & Havranek, E. (2023). Barriers in Healthcare for Latinx Patients with Limited English Proficiency-a Narrative Review. Journal of general internal medicine38(5), 1264–1271. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-022-07995-3 

6.Becker, A. E., Hadley Arrindell, A., Perloe, A., Fay, K., & Striegel-Moore, R. H. (2010). A qualitative study of perceived social barriers to care for eating disorders: perspectives from ethnically diverse health care consumers. The International journal of eating disorders43(7), 633–647. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.20755 

Image From: https://www.verywellhealth.com/tips-for-enjoying-diabetes-friendly-latin-dishes-7969642 

By Claudia Calderon 

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