Males with Eating Disorders: Information, Help, and Resources

The numbers are changing when it comes to males with eating disorders. What used to be one male to every 10-15 women has shown a dramatic increase, according to researchers. It is now suggested that there is one male to every four females with anorexia and for every 8-11 females with bulimia. Binge eating disorder is even less gender specific with an almost equal number of both sexes afflicted, though males show less guilt over a binge than women.

Males tend to begin an eating disorder at an older age than females.
According to new data by researchers at Harvard University Medical School it is suggested that up to 25 percent of adults with eating disorders are male. "Whether that figure indicates that more men are becoming eating disordered, or that men previously escaped attention and diagnosis, or that diagnostic tools have improved and are now catching people who would have escaped detection before has yet to be determined. Preliminary information suggests that men are more concerned about appearance and body image than they were in the past. The new study was based on information obtained from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, a mental health survey of nearly 9,000 adults across the U.S," according to

Risk factors for males may differ from women but several are the same. They may include, but are not limited to, the following:

*Overweight as a child
*Dieting (one of the biggest ED triggers for both sexes)
*Participation in sports that demand thinness (wrestling, track, etc)
*Job that requires thinness (jockey, actor, model, etc)

Some Symptoms of Anorexia in Males:

  • Food rituals
  • Compulsive exercise and/or preoccupation with body mass, muscles, etc.
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age, height, body type, and activity level
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight
  • Disturbance in the way in which one's body weight or shape is experienced
  • Undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of current low body weight
  • Lying about eating or difficulty eating around others
  • Depression, isolation, loneliness
  • Unrealistic and perfectionistic standards
  • Difficulty expressing feelings
  • Low self-esteem
  • Need for control
  • Possible sexual orientation and gender identity issues
  • Decreased interest in sex, anxiety surrounding sexual activity
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Low blood pressure and body temperature
  • Thinning hair or hair loss, lanugo
  • Heart arrhythmia and electrolyte disturbances (
Some Symptoms of Bulimia in Males:
  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating
  • A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating)
  • Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior in order to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting; misuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or other medications; fasting; or excessive exercise
  • Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Hoarding, hiding, stealing food
  • Fear of gaining weight or becoming fat
  • Depression, isolation and loneliness
  • Difficulty expressing feelings
  • Possible sexual orientation and gender identity issues
  • Low self-esteem
  • "People-pleasers"
  • Perfectionistic standards
  • Fatigue
  • Weight Fluctuations
  • Edema
  • Dental problems
  • Electrolyte imbalances (
Some Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder/Compulsive Overeating in Males:
  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating
  • Hoarding, hiding, stealing food
  • Eating rapidly and/or eating until uncomfortably full
  • Consuming large amount of food when not hungry
  • Body weight fluctuations
  • Depression, anxiety, and loneliness
  • Low self-esteem
  • "People-pleasers"
  • Perfectionistic standards
  • Difficulty expressing feelings
  • Negative attention received about their body while growing up
  • Feelings of guilt and shame during and/or after a binge episode
  • Binge eating used to numb feelings, relieve tension, deal with anger, depression and other emotional states
  • Problems with heart and blood pressure and/or blood sugar problems
  • Fatigue
  • Joint problems (
Treatment for both males and females is extremely important. Unfortunately, most treatment centers, support groups, and other recovery options are geared towards women which leaves many men feeling embarrassed and reluctant to seek help.

Helpful links for males with eating disorders:

See sidebar for Eating Disorder Help: Hotlines, Organizations, Websites

N.A.M.E.D. (National Association for Males with Eating Disorders)
NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association)

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