Eating disorder risk in rural US adolescents: What do we know and where do we go?

Samantha L. Hahn, C. Blair Burnette, Kelley A. Borton, Lisa Mitchell Carpenter, Kendrin R. Sonneville, Beth Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adolescence is a vulnerable period for the development of eating disorders, but there are disparities in eating disorder risk among adolescents. One population that may be at increased risk but is vastly understudied, is adolescents residing in rural regions within the United States. Rural communities face many mental and physical health disparities; however, the literature on rural adolescent eating disorder risk is nearly nonexistent. In this paper we summarize the scant literature on disordered eating and eating disorder risk and prevalence among rural US adolescents. We also detail eating disorder risk factors that may have unique influence in this population, including socioeconomic status, food insecurity, healthcare access, body image, and weight stigma. Given the presence of numerous eating disorder risk factors, we speculate that rural adolescents may be a particularly vulnerable population for eating disorders and we propose critical next steps in research for understanding eating disorder risk among the understudied population of rural adolescents. Public Significance: Rural adolescents may be at increased risk for eating disorders due to disproportionate burden of known risk factors, though this relationship remains understudied. We present a summary of the literature on prevalence and unique risk factors, proposing that this may be a high-risk population. We detail next steps for research to understand eating disorder risk in this population to inform future prevention, identification, and treatment efforts needed in this community.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • adolescents
  • disordered eating
  • eating disorder
  • epidemiology
  • health disparities
  • prevention
  • rural health


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