Eating Disorders

Guys get eating disorders too

December 23, 2015

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A Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) with a master's degree in dietetics & nutrition. My passion is helping you find peace with food - and within yourself.

Meet Katy

Eating disorders are typically thought of as an illness impacting women, but the truth is that men get eating disorders too.  Sadly, eating disorders in males go undiagnosed more often than in females, in part because of the stigma attached to a male having a "female illness," and also because it may they may not even be aware they have an eating disorder.

It's also hard to say what the true prevalence rates are for males with eating disorders.  We may even be missing cases in males who are screened because most of the screening tools were developed for females.  It's previously been estimated that 1/10 eating disorders occurred in males, but this ratio is likely way too low and grossly underestimates the number of males who are struggling.

With the addition of binge eating disorder to the DSM-V we saw an increase in male ED diagnoses, as it's been estimated that BED occurs at nearly the same rate in men and women.  It's also been estimated that subclinical disordered eating behaviors happen equally as often in males and females (e.g. fasting, bingeing, purging, laxative abuse, excessive exercise, steroid use, etc.). 

The societal appearance-related pressures on men are different than women.  For women it's the "thin ideal" – an unrealistic beauty standard for extreme thinness.  For men it's the "muscular ideal."  Males are told they need to look like the guys they see on the front of men's magazines, ripped with 6-pack abs and huge biceps.  Young boys are hitting the gym to lift weights in pursuit of this ideal.  They sometimes even abuse steroids or supplements in an attempt to enhance their muscles. 

If you are struggling or know someone who is it's important to get help.  Eating disorders can be life-threatening and require specialized treatment.  For more information on eating disorders in males, visit the NEDA website.

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