For years, eating disorders have been viewed as a “white woman’s disease.” And estimates of male eating disorders told a similar story: while the majority of women suffered from eating disorders, only about 10 percent of men did.
Recent research, however, paints a different, bigger picture: more men are suffering from eating disorders than previously thought. Out of 3,000 people with anorexia and bulimia, 25 percent were men (and 40 percent had binge eating disorder), according to a Harvard study.
[...] The diagnostic criteria for anorexia, for instance, focus on women, which is evident in its hallmark symptoms of amenorrhea (the absence of menstruation) and fear of fatness. Though some men do exhibit a fear of fat, others typically want to be muscular (particularly their chest and arms), obsess over attaining a low body fat percentage and focus their efforts on excelling at a sport (which prompts some to abuse steroids and exercise excessively).
Instead of engaging in traditional compensatory behaviors like vomiting or abusing laxatives, men instead are more likely to exercise compulsively (as cited in Weltzin, Weisensel, Franczyk, Burnett, Klitz & Bean, 2005).
[...] men are also feeling the pressure for physical perfection, surrounded by unattainable images of muscular physiques, six-pack abs, bulging biceps and lean bodies.
But, in contrast to women, where the images are one size fits all (thin is always in), men have a variety of images to emulate, psychiatrist Arnold Andersen, M.D., told The Wall Street Journal:
“Some want to be wiry like Mick Jagger; some want to be lean like David Beckham, and some want to be really buff and bulked, like Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
[...] Men might diet for different reasons than women, including (as cited in Greenberg & Schoen, 2008):
- to prevent weight gain (many eating disordered men were overweight as kids).
- excel in sports. (jockeys, wrestlers, distance runners, gymnasts)
- avoid health complications.
- improve appearance after childhood teasing.
- for their jobs (military)
Not surprisingly, these differences make it harder for professionals to diagnose eating disorders in men. And, oftentimes men are unaware that they’re suffering from an eating disorder in the first place.
[..] Eating disorders are more prevalent in gay and bisexual men than in heterosexual men (Feldman & Meyer, 2007), though one expert attributes the higher prevalence to a greater likelihood to seek treatment.
And as usual:
Since eating disorders are known as a woman’s disease, men might be embarrassed to seek treatment, worried that they’d be seen as less of a man. Because male eating disorders have only recently received attention, many treatment centers don’t have separate services that treat men.
Reminds me so much of the DV situation....really.