“EveryBODY Welcome”: National eating disorder organisations unite to better support LGBTQIA+ community

19 Feb, 2023

Australia’s national eating disorder organisations are uniting to tackle eating disorders and body image concerns in the LGBTQIA+ community, kicking off their EveryBODY Welcome campaign during WorldPride. 

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses associated with high rates of mortality and low rates of detection and intervention, and disproportionately affect LGBTQIA+ Australians. Negative body image or body dissatisfaction increases the risk of developing eating disorders. 

 InsideOut Institute research stream lead and Clinical Psychologist Dr Jane Miskovic-Wheatley (she/her) explains “there is evidence to suggest those who identify as sexually or gender diverse have an increased risk of disordered eating and eating disorders and body image concerns. This community also faces unique barriers to seeking understanding, support and care.” 

“The EveryBODY Welcome initiative has formed for World Pride Sydney 2023 and is about better supporting the community to reach out for help and listening to their experiences so we can deliver better advocacy and healthcare,” adds National Eating Disorder Collaboration (NEDC) National Director Dr Beth Shelton (she/her).  

EveryBODY Welcome is launching with a stall at Sydney Mardi Gras Fair Day. 

In an Australian first, the campaign brings together the seven national eating disorder organisations focused on providing support, research, clinical expertise and lived experience to tackle the issue. 

Eating Disorders Neurodiversity Australia (EDNA) Chair and PhD candidate Laurence Cobbaert (she/they), who has lived experience of Anorexia Nervosa says, “systemic oppression and minority stress can contribute to a wide range of mental health concerns, including anxiety, learned helplessness, low self-esteem, and body image insecurities”. 

“Many of the body image issues and insecurities we face as part of the LGBTQIA+ community stem from not being accepted for who we are, and trying to fit in, at the expense of our own sense of self and agency. Eating disorder care needs to be gender-affirming. EveryBODY Welcome is about breaking down stigma, increasing visibility and awareness, and promoting inclusive support.”

Laurence Cobbaert, Eating Disorders Neurodiversity Australia (EDNA) Chair and PhD candidate

“We invite the community to connect with us at Fair Day. Seeking support from peers experiencing similar intersectional struggles is powerful. Finding your tribe and community connectedness is a key ingredient of recovery,” said Laurence. 

Eating Disorders Families Australia (EDFA) Executive Director Jane Rowan (she/her) says this inclusive support extends to families and carers. 

“Gender, sexuality, body image concerns and eating disorders are complex issues and unique to each individual. We are here to support and educate families and carers as they undertake the recovery journey with their loved ones,” said Jane.  

Breaking down stigma  

Butterfly Foundation Head of Communications & Engagement Melissa Wilton (she/her) explains that “75% of Australians living with an eating disorder do not seek professional help due to stigma, stereotyping and a belief that they do not fit the mould of how an eating disorder ‘should’ look”. 1 

“Eating disorders are widely misunderstood in the broader community, with over half (57%) of Aussies wrongly believing they only affect young women.” 2 

“The truth is, more than one-million people, or four per cent of the Australian population are living with an eating disorder. 3 Eating disorders can affect any person at any stage in their lives, regardless of age, cultural background, sexual or gender identity. Eating disorders do not discriminate and when it comes to providing support, neither should we,” said Melissa.  

More research is needed 

Australian Eating Disorders Research & Translation Centre Chief Operating Officer Peta Marks (she/her) says the collaboration of organisations is also advocating for more research into the experience of eating disorders and body image concerns among the LGBTQIA+ community. 

“US research indicates more than half (54%) of LGBT adolescents have been diagnosed with an eating disorder during their lifetime 4. We suspect the numbers in Australia could be similar, but we need research to be directed towards the diversity of people who develop eating disorders in order to understand more. Research helps us to provide more reliable information to help support our communities in the best possible way,” said Peta 

Australia & New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders Secretary Dr Mandy Goldstein (she/her) explains that members of the LGBTQIA+ community can connect with Credentialed Eating Disorder Clinicians across Australia who are experienced in supporting this community via ANZAED’s new “connect·ed” searchable online directory. 

“We are committed to eliminating discrimination in health care and improving the understanding, prevention and treatment of eating disorders among the LGBTQIA+ community for both clinicians and those seeking treatment,” said Mandy. 

For information about EveryBODY Welcome and support, head to


1.Butterfly Foundation. Community Insights Research. [Internet]. Sydney (AU): Butterfly Foundation; 2021. Available from: 

2 & 3 Butterfly Foundation. An Eating Disorder Looks Like Me. [Internet]. Sydney (AU): Butterfly Foundation; 2021. Available from: 

 4 Paxton SJ, Hay P, Touyz SW, Forbes D, Madden S, et al. Paying the Price: The Economic and Social Impact of Eating Disorders in Australia. Deloitte Access Economics commissioned by The Butterfly Foundation; 2012. Available from: 

5 The Trevor Project, National Eating Disorders Association, & Reasons Eating Disorder Center. Eating Disorders Among LGBTQ Youth: A 2018 National Assessment; 2018. Available from