Men Are Affected By Eating Disorders Too

The majority of people picture a female when they think of eating disorders. But excluding men from that picture is preventing them from receiving the kind of help and support they need to improve their condition. New research published in the BMJ has identified several themes to help men in confronting the disorder.

1 in 10 Affected Is A Man

Certainly, women are affected more than men. Still, about 10-15% of those suffering from anorexia or bulimia are men, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Since there is poor recognition of the disease in men, the numbers are likely higher.

Men Don't Recognize Their Own Symptoms

For this study, 39 people with an eating disorder were interviewed. Ten of them were men. Among the men, there were four common themes: recognition of early signs and symptoms, recognition of the problem, getting help, and initial contact with health care and support services. Many of the men didn’t realize that the obsessive calorie counting, starvation or pathological exercising were indicators of an eating disorder. The belief that eating disorders only affected women was one of the driving reasons they didn’t realize they were sick.

Underdiagnosed and Undertreated

“Men with eating disorders are underdiagnosed, undertreated and under-researched. Our findings suggest that men may experience particular problems in recognizing that they may have an eating disorder as a result of the continuing cultural construction of eating disorders as uniquely or predominantly a female problem,” noted the research team.

Moving Away From Gender Identification

“It is important to decouple the experience and (self) management of eating disorders from feminized cultural imagery, resources, and clinical practice if we wish to prevent men from dismissing signs and symptoms themselves, and prevent health and other professionals (eg teachers) from overlooking signs and symptoms in boys and young men that they may readily recognize as indicative of eating disorders in young women,” researchers concluded.

Sources: MedicalNewsToday, BMJ
Photo: Pexels

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