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The Silent Epidemic: Men With Eating Disorders


While women are commonly effected by eating disorders, millions of men and boys also experience this form of illness.

Because the focus of eating disorders is primarily on women, men and boys with eating disorders are often referred to as the “silent epidemic."

Anorexia and Bulimia

Anorexia nervosa is a life-threatening eating disorder in which a person refuses to maintain normal body weight by eating little to nothing. Men with anorexia may be preoccupied with body building or toning, obsess over body size or frequently weigh themselves. Men with anorexia may also have an “all or nothing” attitude or overreact when others comment on their low weights.

Bulimia nervosa is a similar eating disorder in which binge eating is followed by purging. Men with this eating disorder may obsess over food or compensate for weight gain in some other way. A man with bulimia may also experience mild to severe fluctuation in weight.

At-Risk Demographics

Men who are gymnasts, runners, body builders, rowers, wrestlers, jockeys, dancers or swimmers are more at risk for eating disorders than any others. These men notice weight as a necessity of their sports and can perceive weight loss as athletic success. However, it’s important to distinguish the difference and get help when weight loss has become unhealthy.

The Unattainable Image

Men with eating disorders sometimes believe that there is one body type that’s “right” (this belief is not limited to one gender). However, in overcoming an eating disorder, it’s important to remember that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one perfect body image.

Advertising marketed to men often emphasizes the V-shaped muscular body type. However, men should be reminded that this is not a defining factor in masculinity. Body type is not an indication of masculinity.

Source: National Eating Disorders