Eating Disorders Are On The Rise Among Men & Boys
A study by University College London (UCL) has found that eating disorders are growing twice as fast amongst men and boys as they are amongst women and girls.
So, what are these eating disorders and why are we not hearing about them?
It isn’t just young women who are fretting over that extra couple of inches on their waistline. In fact, men are suffering from high profile diseases such as anorexia and bulimia too. When it comes to anorexia, 1 in 4 of the reported victims are boys.
Moreover, the number of males being diagnosed with eating disorders rose 24% between 2000 and 2009 – almost twice the rise among females during the same time period.
While it is unclear what exactly causes eating disorders, it is obvious that the most vulnerable group is children aged between 13 and 17. In a time where young people are constantly exposed to various pressures, this is no surprise. It only takes one quick Google of ‘size 0’ to be bombarded with images of picture-perfect, digitally manipulated images of girls with scarily thin bodies. However, young boys are also under societal pressures that often go unnoticed.
Andrew, who suffered from Anorexia, developed his eating disorder when he was just 13. Recounting his story, he says:
“I perceived my weight loss as “male model beauty” to have sunken cheeks, and thought that if I was skeletal I might be noticed and cared for. It was like a poor man’s plastic surgery, through which I could transform into someone ‘better’.”
With between 10-25% of eating disorder victims being male, why do we not hear about them in the mainstream media?
Often, the shame felt by men when they realise they have an eating disorder is so strong that it stops them from seeking the help and support they need. In addition to this, there are far fewer charities targeted specifically at men suffering from eating disorders than women.
Experts have warned that with our youth under increasing pressure to conform to society’s idea of ‘perfection’, the problem is now so severe that it threatens the mental health of an entire generation. Whilst the effects of eating disorders on women are at the forefront of the debate, let’s not forget that men are just as vulnerable.
If you know any men suffering from an eating disorder, visit the charity Men Get Eating Disorders Too’s website here for advice and support.