Eating disorders affect all people, of each gender. Men are seen to be the minority, but not as minimal as you might think. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, men make up 10 to 15 percent of all sufferers in the US. (In the UK, that figure is slightly lower, but still…) Around 14 percent of homosexual men suffer from bulimia, over 20 percent from anorexia. About half of teenage girls resort to some unhealthy dieting method—smoking, fasting, using laxative, etc—and roughly a third of teenage boys do the same. Out of everyone suffering from an eating disorder, only a tenth receive treatment. it is troubling to consider the small population of that percentage belonging to men in need of help. Eating disorders are a massive stigma for women. Imagining that extra pressure and minimization for a man is heartbreaking.
Men fall victim to the same kind of eating disorders as women—and more. Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorders, are all recognizable in many men, but for a staggering number of men, their disorder is not specified, it cannot be pegged onto a certain category. Disorders that affect men specifically are so underreported that they do not constitute any traditional categories of diagnoses. Muscle dysmorphia (nickname bigorexia) is a good example; men sometimes obsess over “bulking up,” often to an unhealthy degree, and often with the help of steroids, amphetamines, or other substances. Identifying this problem is tricky: While “traditional” anorexia reveals itself through dramatic weight loss, the effects of exercise bulimia are less obvious to the naked eye.
When it comes to risk factors, the gender gap mostly disintegrates: psychological stresses, underlying mental health issues, the need for a coping mechanism—all exacerbated by a physique-obsessed media that shows itself in every magazine, every movie. A unique causal factor for men seems to be the demand for a particular body size for a particular sport: wrestlers need to be big; runners need to be slim. However a man’s eating disorder develops it is no less detrimental to their overall health as a woman’s.
The Last Resort understands the delicate need in approaching co-occurring disorders in men. Often men’s eating disorders are accompanied by substance abuse. If you are concerned about the presence of an eating disorder or substance abuse in someone you love call The Last Resort today for more information on our treatment programs 877-892-7997