Men get anorexia too. Thousands of them.
If a man told you he'd got an ED, what would you think? Surprised that he was telling you about his erectile dysfunction and a little impresssed at his courage because it's something that's not easy to talk about. Maybe.
But for some men there's an ED that's even harder to discuss — eating disorders. Not only is it difficult to recognise an eating disorder in yourself, it can also be difficult to convince others — including doctors.
In fact eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are not just women's problems. Thousands of men have them and the number is growing. Left unrecognised and untreated they can be very dangerous to health indeed. Eating disorders can kill.
Brian, who has anorexia and Dave, who has bulimia, know all about it. So does Anna Paterson who, following her own experience of anorexia, has written a number of books including Fit To Die about men and eating disorders.
Eating Disorders: FAQs
How many men have eating disorders?
It's difficult to know how many people have eating disorders but the usual estimate is that about 10% of cases will be male.
That may not sound like many but in real numbers it is still a lot of men. There are about 60,000-90,000 people known to eating disorders clinics at any one time so you'd expect 6-9,000 of these to be men. Based on this the Eating Disorders Association estimate that that in the average health district there will be about four new cases of male anorexia and six new cases of male bulimia every year.
Why do men get them?
Like women, men often develop eating disorders in their mid to late teens. The reasons obviously vary but can include:
- Avoiding childhood bullying/teasing for being overweight
- Body building/Exercise
- Specific occupations including involvement in athletics
Women tend to be more concerned with body weight, men with body shape and muscles.
About 20% of men with eating disorders are gay, double the estimated proportion of gay men in the population.
Eating disorders can kill and this is of particular concern to men. Because it is harder for both men and for health professionals to recognise that a man has an eating disorder, treatment can be delayed. Don't let that happen to you. If you're worried seek help.
Who can help?
The Beat Helplines are used to talking to men. Formerly the Eating Disorders Association, Beat is a charity founded in 1989 offering fact sheets, a helpline and advice on specialists and counsellors in your area on anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and related eating disorders.
- Adult Helpline (over 25 years of age) 0845 634 1414
Open 10:30am to 8:30pm Monday to Friday; Saturdays from 1:00pm to 4:30pm; Sunday Closed.
- Youthline (up to and including 25 years of age) 0845 634 7650
Open Monday to Friday 4:30pm-6:30pm; Saturdays from 1:00pm to 4:30pm: Sunday Closed.
- Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- There's more about men and eating disorders on the Beat website.
Page created on June 2nd, 2005
Page updated on May 6th, 2010