The Benefits of Gender-Specific Eating Disorder Treatment

Community of eating disorder sufferers

Contributor: Staff at Montecatini Eating Disorder Treatment Center

The prevalence and presentation of eating disorders are among the many psychological and physical differences between individuals of different genders. Gender-specific eating disorder treatment variations can be seen in how individuals seek treatment, how symptoms impact their functional status, the way individuals respond to treatment, the occurrence of relapse, and more.

As an individualized treatment program is a key to the success of any person who is suffering from a mental health concern or substance use disorder, the same goes for eating disorder treatment.

Research in the International Journal of Eating Disorders analyzed men and women who were receiving inpatient treatment for binge-eating disorder. Results from this study showed that women initially demonstrated more severe and functionally significant symptoms of eating disorders than men. Each participant’s response to treatment was also recorded, and outcomes showed that women lost less weight than men at the end of the treatment.


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These results indicate that there are gender-related differences that have an impact on the way each individual presents and responds to eating disorder treatment. While additional research is needed to determine the exact relationship between gender and eating disorder treatment, such existing studies point to the benefit of receiving gender-specific eating disorder treatment to address unique and personal concerns that each person may display.

An additional study in Women’s Health Issues looked at women who had a history of military service and their preferences toward receiving eating disorder treatment. About 65% of participants in this study demonstrated significantly disordered eating behaviors and other eating disorder symptoms.

Women reported that they preferred to receive eating disorder treatment in groups while indicating that they would also like interactive care approaches from a variety of behavioral health and medical disciplines. These results clearly show that women are more likely to seek eating disorder treatment from skilled professionals and programs that are adequately able to address concerns that are specific to their lives.

Friends in support of Gender-Specific Eating Disorder TreatmentBetween 0.3% and 0.4% of women will experience symptoms of anorexia nervosa during their lifetime, compared with 0.1% of men. Additionally, there are significant differences in the lifetime prevalence of bulimia nervosa between women (1.0%) and men (0.1%). The increasing gap between these statistics suggests that there are underlying gender-related factors that influence the presence and severity of eating disorder symptoms in each population.

The outcomes associated with these studies show the importance of gender-specific eating disorder treatment in ensuring that each woman receives care that caters to her exact needs. Being a woman can potentially cause the onset of psychiatric and physical concerns related to reproductive health, hormonal changes, and other gender-specific areas. All these areas can impact the course and treatment process of eating disorders for women who have this mental health concern.

In order to effectively treat women who are living with eating disorders, interdisciplinary treatment teams should consist of various disciplines to provide well-rounded care to their patients. Behavioral health professionals such as dietitians, prenatal and postnatal care specialists, health coaches, endocrinologists, midwives, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychiatrists can all provide the unique care that women need to achieve long-term recovery from eating disorders.


Breland, J.Y.; Donalson, R.; Dinh, J.; Nevedal, A.; and Maguen, S. (2016). Women veterans’ treatment preferences for disordered eating. Women’s Health Issues, 26(4), 429-236. doi:10.1016/j.whi.2016.04.006.

Hudson, J.I.; Hiripi, E.; Pope, H.G.; and Kessler, R.C. (2007). The prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Biological Psychiatry, 61(3), 348-58. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2006.03.040.

Keski-Rahkonen, A.; Hoek, H.W.; Susser, E.S.; Linna, M.S.; Sihvola, E.; Raevuori, A.; … and Rissanen, A. (2007). Epidemiology and course of anorexia nervosa in the community. American Journal of Psychiatry, 164(8), 1259-65. doi:10.1176/appi. ajp.2007.06081388.

Lydecker, J.A.; Gueorguieva, R.; Masheb, R.; White, M.A.; and Grilo, C.M. (2020). Examining sex as a predictor and moderator of treatment outcomes for binge-eating disorder: Analysis of aggregated randomized controlled trials. Int J Eat Disord, 53(1), 20-30. doi:10.1002/eat.23167.

About Our Sponsor:

Montecatini BannerAt Montecatini Eating Disorder Treatment Center in Carlsbad, California, we provide comprehensive care for adolescent girls and adult women who are struggling with eating disorders. Our state-of-the-art facility offers the individualized treatment that women need to recover from an array of eating disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions.

Our dedicated team of mental health professionals collaborates with each patient to develop a unique and detailed treatment plan to assist in the recovery process. We provide a full range of eating disorder treatment in response to each woman’s individual needs.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed & Approved on March 30, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC
Published March 30, 2020, on

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.