Men and Boys with Eating Disorders Increasingly Common

It is estimated that about 8 million people in the United States struggle with eating disorders and 10 percent of them are male. This may be an under-count of men, since so many men are too ashamed to seek help for their eating disorders, which is perceived as a woman’s illness. Dr. Walter Smitson, President and CEO of The Central Clinic says, “We’re seeing an increasing number and the increase is more in boys. We’re seeing it at a very young age. We see it as early as 9 years of age and maybe even 8 years of age and the person becomes totally obsessed with their body image.”

Experts say that eating disorders are closely linked to self-image and that self-image can be very distorted.

“What those people see is not what their friends, their family, their physician see. You and I may see someone who is very under weight. When that person looks at their body they see something different,” said Dr. Katy Jadeed. Dr. Jadeed is a pediatrician who specializes in eating disorders.

There are a few groups that are especially vulnerable to eating disorders:

  • Young people who participate in competitive sports. “I’ll see kids who just can’t get over injuries because they just don’t have good building blocks. They’re nutrition is really put at risk when they spend so much time fixated on I have to weigh 103 pounds on Friday night” says Dr. Matt Busam, an Orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine
  • Professional athletes, especially ones whose weight is crucial to their success. Rodney Prescott has been a jockey for 19 years “Binging and purging, yes we call it flipping. A lot of riders flip, I’ve seen that a lot. I’ve known riders that when their careers are over they don’t have to watch their weight anymore, but they can’t help but flip after doing it for so long.”

Those with eating disorders very often also have issues with substance abuse. Substance abuse and eating disorders are a deadly combination, though they can be successfully treated together with success.

For more information on male eating disorders:


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