Eating Disorders And Males
What do you think of when you think of an eating disorder? What comes to your mind? For many people, it’s the image of a young, middle class, white female, purging after a meal in hopes of not gaining weight. While this is certainly the stereotypical image, the truth is that eating disorders impact the lives of individuals of all ages, races, economic status, and genders. So why do we hear so little about men that struggle with eating disorders? Men as well as women are affected by eating disorders, but there are some different challenges that they face in regard to seeking and receiving treatment.
The Difference Between Males And Females
Part of the problem with the diagnosis of an eating disorder in the male population is that the criteria for recognizing these conditions have been generally gender specific. For instance, leading up to May of 2013, amenorrhea, or the absence of menstruation, was also used to identify anorexia nervosa. Criteria for bulimia nervosa includes the use of laxatives or vomiting in order to keep weight down. While this may certainly be true for the female population and a portion of their male counterparts, men are likely to use compulsive exercise as a way to compensate for their overeating. Excessive exercise in the male population is often encouraged, which make it difficult for men to realize their problem.
A “Female” Disorder
Due to the fact that the public views eating disorders as a female issue, there can be a great deal of shame for a male who is struggling with one of these conditions. For a male suffering from bulimia, this shame can lead to a delay in them seeking treatment, or keep them from ever seeking help at all. In the case of binge eating disorder, it is much more likely to go unnoticed in the male population versus the same condition with a female.
Difficulties In Treatment
One of the obstacles in treating men with eating disorders is that it is far less common for a medical doctor to diagnose a male with one of these conditions. Male eating disorders do not receive the attention that females do, and that has lead to fewer facilities that treat or specialize with the male population. The difficulty in diagnosing and treating this population has lead to an imbalance between men and women with eating disorders, and has continued to perpetuate the problem.
Bringing It To The Forefront
We know that the male population suffers from disordered eating in the same way that women do. It is important that we start to lift the stigma, remove the stereotype, and educate the public on this reality. Living with an untreated eating disorder is painful, and it is important that individuals feel comfortable with coming forward to ask for help. These conditions are life threatening and males as well as females need support to overcome them.
Men and women, please come forward! We are here to help!
For more information on eating disorders and males, please click HERE