Boys Dying To Be Thin
Eating Disorders In Men
Eating disorders such as anorexia are not just a "girl's problem". Eating disorders affect both sexes. The causes, effects and treatment are similar. The main difference is that it is more difficult to identify the disorder and to get adequate treatment for men.
It can be difficult for anyone to seek help - but the problem is so much greater for young men who develop what many people mistakenly consider is a female problem.
Studies on Male anorexia
There are few large studies of men with anorexia and bulimia. One of them is the one carried out by the department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. The study suggests that eating disorders may be higher among men than the current National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders estimates. They believe that men make up about 1 million of the 8 million Americans with eating disorders.
Another study in 2007 by the Harvard University Medical School suggested that up to 25% of adults with eating disorders were male. The study was based on information obtained from a mental health survey of nearly 9,000 adults across the U.S.
Dr Arnold E Andersen, MD a professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa says that men with eating disorders have been "ignored, neglected and dismissed because of statistical infrequency".
Eating Disorder Awareness Week is February 22-28, 2015
My Life as a Male Anorexic, a uniquely male point of view of anorexia nervosa
My Life as a Male Anorexic sheds light on the little-known problem of male anorexia nervosa.
While female patients tend to place an excessive focus on food control and/or food rejection, male patients tend to focus more on excessive exercise and muscle gain.
Treating anorexia involves cognitive therapy to overcome a distorted body image, which is at the core of eating disorders.
Misconceptions About Male Eating Disorders
Misconceptions about male eating disorders, keep men from getting adequate treatment and often they are excluded from treatment based only on gender.
- Anorexia is thought of as a girl's disease and men and their families think that it cannot happen to them. Even after they suspect it, they do not want to admit that they have "a girl's disease" and neither do they want to go to specialized care mainly aimed at women.
- To make matters worse, men are more reluctant to ask for help because since childhood they are taught to "be in control", to "keep themselves together" without seeking out help. To be unable to control something in life is mistaken as a sign of weakness for men.
- Often, men are not allowed to express their feelings and may turn to eating disordered behaviour to cope with uncomfortable feelings. Even if men ask for professional help, they are frequently refused treatment. Most medical establishments are not prepared and many don't even know how to respond, as treatment is different in men and women because they have different worries and expectancies about their body image. Men relate in terms of "strong" or "weak". For some fat is associated with being weak, unmanly and disgusting. So, for many men, structured forms of exercise are carried to obsessive levels.
- Physically, anorexia in men may be less noticeable than in women because men can still have muscle mass even though they are thin. But this fact makes anorexia more dangerous in men as they lose more muscle and tissue, as opposed to women who lose mostly fat in the early stages.
More and more men are starving themselves to death in a pathological pursuit of perfection.
- Online Self Assessment | The Center for Eating Disorders | Baltimore, Maryland
If you are worried that you or someone you know might be suffering from an eating disorder, you can do the assessment quiz offered by the eating disorders organization. There are only a few questions to answer and you get an immediate assessment.
Diagnosing an eating disorder in a man is often more complicated than diagnosing that of a woman. Often men do not just ‘starve' themselves like the girls, but they over-exercise. So for a longer time, they tend to look healthier and muscular, whereas girls look washed out. Also, a classic sign of anorexia, amenorrhea, cannot be applied in men.
In men, Doctors are more likely to look for physical causes of weight change before considering an eating disorder. For men with eating disorders, levels of testosterone decrease along with sexual libido, which often go unreported or unnoticed.
The eating disorder Bulimia may go partly unrecognized as overeating by men is less likely to evoke concern. The diagnosis of an eating disorder in men takes about twice as long as in women, leaving the problems associated with the eating disorder to worsen.
Despite the gender differences, anorexia and bulimia are characterized, in both men and women, by essentially the same traits: self-induced starvation, an excessive fear of becoming fat even when thin, and a tendency toward compulsive living patterns.
Doctors often don't spot the signs in men. Symptoms can involve: -
- Noticeable weight loss or fluctuating in size.
- Obsessive preoccupation with body, weight and shape.
- Compulsive over-exercising.
- Abuse of products that help "bulk up".
- Decreased sexual desire.
- Depression, fatigue.
- Performing food rituals or restricting the amounts or types of foods eaten (eating no fat or eating only vegetables, for example). Also Inability to eat with others.
- Vomiting or using laxatives or diuretics.
- Use of diet pills.
- Perfectionist behaviour.
- Isolating oneself.
- Thinning hair.
An important part of recovery is accepting that you have an eating disorder and talking about it.
What To Do?
- See a physician to identify any physical problems contributing to, or resulting from, the eating disorder.
- Speak with a psychotherapist or mental-health professional who specializes in the treatment of these disorders.
- Experts also recommend contacting a nutritionist or registered dietician to help develop healthful eating habits and menu planning.
Eating With A Recovering Anorexic
Eating can be very stressful for people recovering from anorexia or any other eating disorder, so don’t add to it by discussing things that may increase anxiety for them.
If you are eating with someone recovering from an eating disorder, try to focus on positive and light topics that aren’t related to food. Cheerful conversation can sometimes serve as a good distraction from food-related anxiety.
Whatever you do, please do not try to be the "Food Police" you are there to help, to offer support, you don't want to judge or monitor everything they eat. Try to be as normal as possible with them, avoid "the food" topic.
Male Eating Disorder Survivor
Known Risk Factors For The Development Of Eating Disorders In Men
Some factors that might put a man at risk of being affected by an eating disorder are:
- Negative family patterns. Parents who stress fitness or athleticism to an unhealthy degree, or have unrealistic expectations for their children.
- Media influence. Magazines and TV commercials increasingly sport photos of lean, muscular, athletic-looking men.
- Traumatic events. Sexual, physical or emotional abuse.
- During adolescence, teasing and taunting by their peers, as well as difficulty fitting into the masculine values of competitiveness, aggressiveness, strength, athleticism and independence.
- Overweight in childhood which leads to dieting during puberty.
- Confusion and anxiety about becoming a man and growing up. Some males attempt to deal with their sexual impulses by developing an eating disorder as a way to attempt to regain control over their bodies.
- The practice of certain sports where body shape and size are important. For example: runners, jockeys, gymnasts, ice skaters and dancers are at increased risk. Also wrestlers who try to shed pounds quickly before a match so they can compete in a lower weight category seem to be at special risk.
- A job or profession that demands thinness, like modelling and acting.
- Men who experienced intense emotional pain and do not know how to cope with it in a healthy way, try to control eating habits, weight or bodily functions as means to provide a sense of control
Male Celebrities With Eating Disorders
- John Lennon. Author Debra Sharon Davis claims in her book "BackStage Pass VIP" that Lennon showed all the signs of an eating disorder but because he was never diagnosed with the disease went untreated in his years of fame.
- Elton John, gone public about his struggles with bulimia.
- Actor Billy Bob Thornton went public about his weight issues and struggles with anorexia.
- Actor Dennis Quaid spoke out about his battle with anorexia in the mid-1990s which he developed because he had to lose some weight for a role in a movie.
- Actor Matthew Perry (Friends) was battling an eating disorder in the past.
- Elvis Presley suffered an eating disorder and chronic depression.
- Alfred Hitchcock struggled with compulsive eating.
- Musician Richey James struggled with anorexia.
- Franz Kafka, suffered from anorexia.
- Businessman David Beckermert, a successful CEO and President of a billion-dollar Calgary oil and gas company, openly talked about his struggle with bulimia.
Celebrities Tell Their Real-Life Stories of Eating Disorders and Recovery
Feeding the Fame captures the stories of approximately 20 celebrities who have suffered eating disorders. These original personal accounts reveal the most intimate fears and disappointments, as well as the unconventional, fascinating, and effective paths back to a normal healthy body image and eating patterns.
Men-Anorexia and social influence
Societal pressures to obtain the "ideal" body image are no longer gender specific. Men's magazines focussing on looks, fitness, and nutrition are as numerous as female magazines. Also television and movies saturate us with images of beautifully buildt men. The male body has become a sex object as much as the female body has been for decades.
Nowadays, men comprise over a quarter of all cosmetic surgery patients. Men as much as women are keen to have restrictive diets, cosmetic surgery, beauty treatments and whatever might be necessary to look the way they want.
Forum on anorexia
- Eating Disorder Bulletin Board | Anorexia Forums | Bulimia | ED Forums | Compulsive Overeating | The
Forum on anorexia. A place to share your story and find support. Their bulletin board is closely monitored to ensure everyone's best interests -- and those wishing to post will have to register first.
- Forum for people with eating disorders
This forum is for everyone with any type of Eating Disorder who wants to interact with others and talk about emotions and issues surrounding the battle and recovery from an Eating Disorder.