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The Skinny on MANorexia Nervosa: It's Not Just for Girls!

Updated on December 20, 2012
The New Face of Anorexia
The New Face of Anorexia | Source

Eating Disorders: Chew On This!

It is estimated that over one million boys are suffering from the ravages of anorexia nervosa in the United States alone!

Now - THAT'S a lot to digest!

There is no social class that this disease will not eat through - no racial - no religious - no geographic. It is bi-partisan and a-sexual in the damage it does and the havoc it creates.

And now? Now, it is being recognized as an equal opportunity disease as well! Boys can starve themselves to death, too!

While most parents take in the dangers that this illness presents, and are - hopefully - vigilant in noticing any signs or changes in their daughters - their sons, in the meanwhile - could be busily disguising evidence of their own illness!

Boys stricken with anorexia have to gnaw on the inherent shame of having the disease in the first place - and then - they are forced to sink their teeth into the knowledge that it is a disorder historically synonymous with girls!

Ewwwww! Anorexia AND girl germs! It's a lot for any young boy to swallow and could very easily turn into a recipe for disaster!

Long included amongst those 'distasteful' afflictions that nobody likes to speak of - the time has come to pick a serious bone with this deadly disease that is so voraciously gobbling up the lives and futures of our children!


Help Me!
Help Me! | Source

Here are some known triggers for male anorexia - and the symptoms to watch for...

  • Pre-Mature at Birth: Children born pre-term are more likely to suffer from general behavioral issues - including eating disorders!

  • Early Onset Puberty: Boys who are turning into men faster than their friends may try to reverse the process.
  • Poor Body Image: Watch for a hyper-interest in their bodies - including verbal and non-verbal clues. A pubescent boy who spends an inordinate amount of time staring into, or flexing in front of a mirror could be at risk.
  • Marked Increase in Exercise: Exercise is good. Too much exercise could very well be a danger sign of an eating disorder.

Somebody Stop Me!
Somebody Stop Me! | Source
  • Layering of Clothes: While this is a a classic symptom of all eating disorders - it is, at the same time - not necessarily a symptom of anything at all. Keep close tabs none the less. A sudden love of layering should be looked at more closely - especially if combined with any other symtoms!
  • Sudden Depression: Displeasure with ones body image can quickly spiral into depression.
  • Playing with Food: Those afflicted with eating disorders work diligently to hide the fact from others. They will sit at the table and pretend to eat - all the time just moving their food around their plates or surreptitiously feeding it to Fido!
  • Obsessive-Compuslive Behavior: Many who suffer from eating disorders have the highest IQ's and the highest aspirations! Perfectionists often fail in their own eyes and can tend to micro-manage every aspect of their lives - including what they eat! This can easily spiral out of control.

Isolation: Any changes in social interaction, behavior, attitudes, or sleep patterns should be noted and discussed. Those suffering from eating disorders tend to be even more irritable and irrational than average pubescent kids!

Hopeless | Source
  • Loss of Body Weight: While this may seem obvious - it often isn't until it is too late. Weigh your child over a period of 2 months if you have any concerns. If there is any weight loss at all - there is a problem. Children should NOT be losing weight!
  • Genetic Link?: While not yet scientifically proven, many believe there is a genetic link - as eating disorders tend to run in families. Others believe it is a familial phenomenon and not genetic at all!

No matter what the combination of motivating factors may be - the common ingredient is that eating disorders are used as a way to gain control over ones life - or a particular aspect of it - that feels out of control to the victim.

What's important to feast upon - is that anorexia - and manorexia - CAN be whipped if caught in time!

Knowledge is power!

Gorge upon it!


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    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      @Rusticliving: Hello, Elizabeth - and Welcome! Eating disorders are close to my heart - not because i experienced them personally - but, i watched several friends - 2 of whom were sent home because their bulimia was soo out of control..I got lucky - i wasn't ABLE to do it - but, i did try! The world of competitive gymnastics demanded certain sacrifices that were inhumane - if not

      i've never owned a scale since i was 16 years old...neither do my kids...i'm very proud of that..

      thanks for stopping by, my friend - AND for the share!

    • Rusticliving profile image

      Elizabeth Rayen 5 years ago from California

      I don't think I have ever heard anyone write or talk about Anorexia in men. It's always focused on the girls, the models, the teens, etc. I am so glad you touched on this and made it aware to so many. This disease is so horrible and to think that anyone who suffers with it alone is unforgivable. Kudos Leslie! Thumbs up and definitely shared! ♥

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      @RichieMogwai: gave me chills! You are a very, VERY lucky man - and - i know! While it was a horrible tragedy when Karen Carpenter died - her death most certainly was not in vain!

      You're an excellent example, Richie - and - it's not the first time i've heard that her death - inspired them to live!

      Thank you for taking the time and sharing such a personal part of your life!

      Bravo to your mom - again - you are a very, VERY lucky man...

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      @Escobana: Hello my friend - SO nice to see you! For some reason - you put an instant smile on my face - i LOVE your positive energy!

      we all seek control of the madness in different ways - i'm so glad that your therapist recognized the signs - i've watched it up close and personal - and it can ruin's sad and ugly..

      it's funny isn't it - only the sane question their sanity - the crazies think they're perfect sane...LOL..

      it's a mad, mad - mad, mad world!


    • RichieMogwai profile image

      Richie Mogwai 5 years ago from Vancouver

      thanks for this hub, it's very true. I had anorexia nervosa when I was in high school, I almost died. I lost all my appetite and refused to eat, the only thing that sustained me was that Karen Carpenter died from the same affliction. So when I heard the news then, I encouraged myself to eat and started to gain weight again. Kudos to my mother, who forced me to start eating. Otherwise, I would have perished with the Carpenters girl, whom I idolized so much during my high school years. She was such a natural singer. I don't think there is anyone like her.

    • Escobana profile image

      Escobana 5 years ago from Valencia

      Share if I care? Of course I share!

      Very well written Hub and very complete too. I have to admit being Bipolar also came with a minor eating disorder.

      It's true about wanting to get some control because I felt very much out of it. Lucky for me I was already in therapy, so my psychologist recognized the signs.

      It never really got out of hand except for getting fat as a result of being depressed. It could have gone both ways though.

      The 25 kilo's I lost later on, were lost in over two years in a healthy way.

      Interesting fact: In Valencia you see a big amount of very skinny gays. It's some sort of fashion amongst them. Maybe it's more than a fashion?

      Up, interesting and yes...I care!

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      @Sueswan: Hi, Sue - so nice to see you! Boys get lost in the anorexia shuffle - but - they're still suffering...

      Thanks for caring and sharing!

    • profile image

      Sueswan 5 years ago

      Hi Leslie,

      We always hear about women with anorexia. Thank you for making us aware that it also a problem that affects boys as well.

      Many parents have a bad body image of themselves that they pass on to their children.

      Voted up and awesome.


      Have a good day. :)

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      @Kallini2010: You have a friend here - with an open ear and an open heart! Anytime you want to chat/vent/etc..

      will read your hub in the morning as it is past my

    • kallini2010 profile image

      kallini2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Dear Karen:

      I am sorry it takes me forever to get back. Thank you for insisting that I am such a wonderful parent, I would beg to differ, but it is very nice to hear.

      My name is Svetlana and I think we met each other when you a left a comment or two on one of my hubs. I have not written in a long time and my life has been ... (note: here I should not even start complaining!)

      My gymnastics story is not as glorious as yours, while my experience helped me with the body development and overall health, it crushed my self-confidence in its bud. And I have not recovered since (I was ten, my first depression started when I was ten).

      That troubles me about Daniel more - he is approaching this time... and he is already moody meaning he can have bipolar just like me.

      I won't burden you with my stories, but if you are curious, you can look us up in the hub

      you don't have to read - scroll down the the 3rd video that is called "Working on it" - it is me and Daniel pontificating...

      and the child is very much to the point - "First I watch and then I do it" - of course, no question about it - the video was not planned, rehearsed, premeditated - it was just a probe, a test...

      maybe later we'll do something worth watching, something funny/ier, something really entertaining.

      Now, I have to recover - my health is in the dumps.

      Thanks for listening for my eternal complaints - maybe I need a loving parent - a friend, a coach in one person!

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      @Kallini2010: I repeat: You are a wonderful parent!!!! You care where so many others do not! Your son knows how much you love him - therefore- feels safest pushing YOUR buttons the hardest! We, as moms - especially us guilty divorced ones - need to parent, not befriend - which includes big doses of love mixed with discipline, and it's always a tough balance.

      I believe we do damage to our kids whether we over-protect them OR over-expose them. I know people who had what is considered the 'perfect' childhood that are more screwed up than those who did not.

      It's also not ALL up to you/us - kids are like snowflakes - no 2 are alike!

      As far as food issues go - i know way too much!

      I'm not sure if you know - but - i used to be a gymnast. I left home at 14 to train in oregon at an elite level and - as you can imagine - food (or lack thereof) was ALWAYS an issue!

      While i was there (a year and a half) 2 girls were sent home because their bulimia was raging out of their control - one was going for her THIRD Olympics...

      Personally - i was very lucky, but - have never owned a scale since - and was extremely cognizant of how i influenced my children where food was concerned!

      I never EVER said - eat everything on your plate...i figure when kids are hungry they'll eat - otherwise - why force 'em?

      I'm also not a big believer in meal 'times' - i believe in body clocks - eat when hungry, period! I've been known to get up at 3 in the morning and barbeque a steak and i've never had a weight problem..

      btw - yes - i'm called Leslie, my middle name. My first name is Karen - and i am - CARING - therefore: I'mKar'n..

      And yours, my friend?

    • kallini2010 profile image

      kallini2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank you, ImKarn23:

      I don't think I am a wonderful parent, I am simply human. Last time we parted I was really mean to my son - I simply lost it. We, as parents do lose it.

      I tried to apologize and that it was it again - "crying himself to sleep" moment...

      I cannot even begin to comprehend how fragile the psyche of our children could be - I think I am sensitive, yet there is sensitivity and defiance in the same bottle for me - I guess even my mother who did so much damage on a bigger scale of things is a weaker person.

      So, it is hard for me to comprehend such super-super-super sensitivity of my boy... and yet, I know he has intuition, he knows how to play people, how to press certain buttons...

      and you are right about those closets! I was warned about suicides among boys - there was that reason after the first sexual experience when a girl would laugh at him - not necessarily for a performance malfunction, but just ridicule... and boys are quick to call it quits with life. I don't blame girls, I don't blame boys,

      I am honestly saying - we have to know our children. You did the right thing - no vacation is important when it is your son. And I don't know what is right - "to toughen them up or make them human?"

      And with eating - coming back - I tried to force the "right stuff" on him - it makes me feel horrible, it makes him hate everything about the food (it's called the negative relationship with food) and I just stopped.

      I make half-hearted efforts every now and then... and he eats what he likes most of the time. I just play it up.

      Turns out to be that the person who is concerned about the health and healthy eating habits (my mom) has the highest cholesterol level. The problem with nutrition is not only what food, what percentage and blah,

      there is a relationship with food - positive, negative, feeling guilt about eating, hating what you eat... too much/too little

      and it comes back again to being unhappy.

      Really - malnourishment, obesity, eating disorders they all stem from discontent with the way of life or our general misunderstanding


      Maybe we just should write our own stories or something that inspires others - to stop and think and question - what is happening with our kids? Not when it is so late, it is obvious, but now - what kind of a child/ren I have? Is he/she/they happy?

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      @Kallini2010: I feel your pain - i really do! Not only is there plenty of criticism in both homes - i'm sure there's a healthy helping of guilt as well, which often makes us NOT do what ought to be done..

      i'm divorced and have both a daughter and a son - and yes- my boy is sooo much more sensitive than my daughter! When his first girlfriend broke up with him - he phoned me and was SO distressed - i took an airplane home(i was away on holiday) I had visions of those boys who never recover - and are found hanging in closets - i know that's awful - but, he was beyond consolable and i couldn't get to him fast enough! You strike me as an awesome parent, have much to be proud of, my new friend!

    • kallini2010 profile image

      kallini2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Hi, Leslie:

      It's Leslie, isn't it? No, I don't think he has it, I am just putting it on my list "To be aware of".

      I am trying to figure out the way to be, not to be positive, but pick up on anything that makes him happy - there is too much criticism in my home and his dad's home - we are divorced.

      Unhappy children are more prone to those things. Actually, now one thing came back to mind - a couple of years back, when I was trying to be more strict (and maybe I simply overdid it), he started bedwetting. Maybe a for a couple of nights, but then my mother immediately said "It is only a sign of him not being able to handle certain things and he won't talk about it. Let him do what he want, let him grow at his own pace..."

      I immediately stepped back - he tends to internalize things and I keep forgetting it. Sometimes he would cry before going to sleep - the last time he really scared me with it - he just remembered he had to go back to school (the 1st day of school) and he was crying himself to sleep so bitterly. And it is almost impossible to console him when he falls asleep. Maybe it is the only time of day when he shows his vulnerability at its most.

      Boys are very emotional and vulnerable. I hope other parents realize that as well. Not all that is well on the surface is well under the surface.

      An article like yours and this conversation just let me get in touch with something I tend to repress as well.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      @Kallini2010: I'm so so sorry for both you and your son - it's awful being a parent that has to constantly worry! I know - my daughter was diagnosed with type I Diabetes when she was 10 - on the needle immediately - and, she didn't take to it well...sigh..

      Wondering if you showed your son this article - or ones like it? Or...actually took him somewhere where he could talk to BOYS - not psychologists (not that both wouldn't be best) - that are or have suffered from it?

    • kallini2010 profile image

      kallini2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I actually took him to a GP a few years back, then it goes like this

      GP - pediatrician - pediatric neurologist - pediatric gastroenterologist - nutritionist.... then they sent us to a psychologist....

      My son is only nine, I did it when he was 6? 7? or both years...

      they measure him - height, weight, the head circumference...

      I think - I!!! should write a story

      and, and, and...


      He fits into the 90 % - 95% percentile of growth - meaning for his age - he is closer to the other (higher end) of the norm - (he is tall, his head is big, but he is simply thin - I was thin when I was a child. Now both his dad and I are more prone to gaining weight than losing it - and it is genetic).

      as the doctors told me "He gets all the nutritionist that his body/organism needs for growth. No concern there".

      The poor habits (eating habits and OCD as well) - I learned a lot about my son during those visits -

      1. He was not ready for school - (school curriculum are designed for girls and their speed and pattern of development), so he will hate it. Already does.

      2. I have to make sure that I feed him properly...

      You should have seen how my son Daniel "negotiated" with the neurologist - it seemed like this little boy had a degree in negotiating for Unions.

      Nobody could win, nobody could sway him

      - there is only one way - getting his cooperation.

      There is one thing he loves to do - he loves to teach me what I!!! should do when I don't feel well.

      Shall I be concerned?

      I was concerned,

      I am, and I will be concerned and, especially after your article,

      but I just hope

      when we KNOW or think that we know we are better prepared than when we are in the complete darkness.

      Thanks again!

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      @Kallini2010: Houston, do we have a problem here? I'm so very sorry to hear about your son's eating habits...You must be very concerned! What to do now? Counseling? I wish i knew what would help and know you will do whatever is necessary to find out..

    • kallini2010 profile image

      kallini2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Great! You got me worried... not that I was not worried before - poor eating habits, saying "I'm fat" and being so skinny he can hide behind the broom...

      Thank you for sharing,

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      @DeborahBrooks: I saw the girls version of this and bulimia when i was's not pretty and it affects entire lifetimes! Thanks for sharing...

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Oh I could cry.. I want to hug all those boys and girls and tell them they are loved and its alright to eat. Oh my what society does to our young people.. what a great informative hub. thank you for being brave enough to write about this subjects..



    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      @Anaceleste: While i hope and believe your son is fine, Celeste - it gives me incredible pleasure to know that i may have helped inform even one person! Thank you!

    • ananceleste profile image

      Anan Celeste 5 years ago from California

      As I am reading this, my 15 year old son is in the kitchen drinking water. It just sent chills of my spine. It never crossed my mind. He is a VERY picky eater. Always has. I have heard of it before, but it never crossed my mind to keep an eye on him for it. I was told that in his case,his eating habits where normal. Still maybe we should have a talk anyway. Thanks.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      @Realhousewife: Me TOO! Meaty Men for Me! lol...

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I really didn't know guys were plagued with this too! Interesting but yeah I like men to be thick! Lol. Even fats ok:) lol. I just like my guy to be much bigger than me! Lol

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      @GOAH: Very sad...'Ranchette' - very funny...

    • profile image

      GOAH 5 years ago

      Guess I by-passed both articles about illnesses that make you to thin... says your chubby Aunty... still very informative and scary. Did I ever tell you that the first time I ever heard of Anorexia was in Winnipeg, when I lived on the Ranchett... the girl who gave me my horse, was anorexic and her family wouldn't let her ride anymore... I agreed to keep her horse for her until she was better... never saw or heard from her again. So sad.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      i am here

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      @Timmarlowgrace: Hi, Tim..nice to meet you! Sorry to hear about your experience with anorexia, but proud of you for overcoming! Being an ex-gymnast, 2 girls were sent home from oregon when their bulimia became out of control..I've seen the ravages of the disease and it is not pretty - and it is very difficult for 'outsiders' to understand! Your honesty takes guts - thank you..

    • timmarlowgrace profile image

      timmarlowgrace 5 years ago from Manchester

      Well written article and yes from my own bitter experience, manorexia is very real. Articles like this are great at bringing male eating disorders to the public attention. Check out

    • EclecticFusion profile image

      Lisa 6 years ago from Tennessee

      I never really thought about this disease and boys. Kind of naïve of me! Thanks for this very informative article!

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 6 years ago

      Thanks so much Lady_E.. one day i'd like more information or a link to your site..

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

      Your are so right and thanks for sharing and raising awareness and hi-lighting the symptoms. I am tweeting it now from my twitter account that I run to support Anorexics;

      Thanks and Best Wishes

    • profile image

      Jennifer Ward-Pelar 6 years ago

      Heartbreaking. When I was in school, it was only girls. The boys used drugs instead. (Not much better.)

    • profile image

      Breen Bergstrome 6 years ago

      Hi ImKarn 23,

      You mentioned it in passing...I've been racking my brain to locate the place we were talking...I'll come across it eventually and let you know...not the Emerlad Cafe...Epi's place?..

      I know it's coming up soon. regards this this a dilemma of the 21st century or are we just becoming aware.

      Later, girl.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 6 years ago

      @martin: i don't believe

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 6 years ago

      @Breenbergstrome: LOL..stop - it's going to my big fat head! lol..How did you hear about my daughter's wedding, Breen?

    • profile image

      martin 6 years ago

      I was here

    • profile image

      Breen Bergstrome 6 years ago

      Right on Picadilly...this gal is way off the charts fantastic.

      Incidently ImKarn23, congratulations on the uncoming nuptials of your daughter. I hope the weather is beautiful and the day perfectly wonderful.

    • profile image

      picadilly 6 years ago

      Thank you for bringing this to the front of the class, awareness of a problem is half the fix. Love, love your style!!

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 6 years ago

      @FyrFytr234: Thank you, sir! We aim to please!

      @Breenbergstrome: Exactly, mom! What we think we have the most control over winds up controlling us! Balance is everything!

      @Jessica: I appreciate your appreciation, Jessica! Share it at will!

    • profile image

      Jessica 6 years ago

      Great piece. Thank you for bringing this to further light. Like you said, a lot of people have no idea that this is a disease that affects young men. The first step towards change, and helping anyone, is being AWARE that it is a problem! Reading this might just help someone save a life.

    • profile image

      Breen Bergstrome 6 years ago

      I'm amazed to discover anorexia is such a concern in young boys and men. Is that a 21st Century disorder or one of centuries? One thing a person can control (in a world where there is little)is what they consume...however the control becomes controlling, like serious addictions might.

    • FyrFytr234 profile image

      FyrFytr234 6 years ago

      Wow. That was interesting, informative, and eye opening. There is no reason why boys can't have this disorder as well, but how many of us even thought about that? Not very many I'm guessing. Nicely done...once again.