Recent public awareness of racial and ethnic disparities has again brought to light issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the eating disorders field. However, empirical information on racial and ethnic representation in eating disorders research is limited, making it difficult to understand where improvements are needed.
This study reviewed all studies including human participants published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders in 2000, 2010, and 2020. Differences in likelihood of reporting race and ethnicity were calculated based on study year, location, and diagnostic categories.
Out of 377 manuscripts, 45.2% reported information on the race and ethnicity of study participants. Studies conducted in the United States were more likely to report (128/173), and those conducted in Europe were less likely to report (5/61) on race and ethnicity than those conducted outside of those regions. Rates of reporting increased from 2000 to 2020. White participants made up approximately 70% of the samples that reported race and ethnicity data. Hispanic participants made up approximately 10% of samples reporting race and ethnicity. Participants from all other races and ethnicities made up less than 5% each.
Although rates of reporting race and ethnicity increased over time, most participants were White. Rates of reporting also differed by the geographical region, which may reflect variability in how information on race and ethnicity is collected across countries. More attention toward capturing the cultural background of research participants and more inclusivity in research are needed in the eating disorders field.