Eating Disorders in Males

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Eating Disorders in Males

Eating disorders are largely considered to be a "female disease". Statistics seem to validate this perception – of the estimated five million-plus adults in the United States who have an eating disorder, only ten percent are thought to be male ((1)). Many professionals, however, hold the opinion that these numbers are incorrect – it is impossible to base the statistics on anything other than the number of adults diagnosed with eating disorders, and men are much less likely than women to seek help for such a problem ((2)). This means that the male population probably suffers more from eating disorders than the numbers show.

The fact that the number of men who suffer from eating disorders is larger than most people think, and the fact that most people do not consider men to be susceptible to eating disorders at all, raise the question of whether or not we treat men who may have an eating disorder the same way we treat women. Simply put, this knowledge begs the question: is it more dangerous to be a man with an eating disorder than it is to be a woman with one?

For quite some time, there was a great deal of debate within the medical community as to whether or not men develop eating disorders for the same reasons that women do ((2)). Since very few men are willing to participate in treatment and study programs for people suffering from eating disorders, there was little way of knowing what psychological factors triggered disordered eating in males. A study published in the April 2001 issue of an APA journal, which looked at men with eating disorders and compared them to women with eating disorders and men without eating disorders, found that "men are generally very similar to women in terms of co...

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... them on the early signs of an eating disorder in their child. It is also important that doctors be aware of the possibility that one of their male patients may have an eating disorder, and that they treat any of the symptoms that would lead them to believe a female patient had an eating disorder just as seriously when those symptoms occur in a male patient. By working to erode the assumption that eating disorders are fundamentally un-masculine, we assure that men feel able to seek the same help that as women.

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