Where identities converge: the importance of intersectionality in eating disorders research Academic Article uri icon


  • Disparities in eating disorder (ED) risk, diagnosis, and treatment for those who occupy multiple marginalized social identities (e.g., combined racial/ethnic and sexual minority statuses), underscore the need for advancing multicultural research in the ED field. In this article, we argue that intersectionality-informed approaches, which examine the ways in which one's multiple social identities interact to inform risk for ED outcomes, offer an established framework for identifying frequently underserved individuals who may be at greatest risk for EDs. We highlight preliminary intersectional research in EDs and offer suggestions for further progression. In particular, we encourage future intersectionality-informed research to incorporate a broader range of social identities (e.g., age, ability status), consider the ways in which these identities may be dimensional and fluid, and embrace strengths-based approaches to illuminate dimensions of identity that may serve as protective factors. To support such research, we describe quantitative and qualitative methods for pursuing questions of intersectionality in ED investigations. Given the success of intersectionality-informed research in other areas of psychopathology and its relevance to ED as suggested by initial research, the continued pursuit of these approaches in EDs has high potential to improve identification and treatment for patients who have too often been overlooked.

publication date

  • 2020