Men With Eating Disorders Overlooked Because They're More Common in Women

First Posted: Apr 09, 2014 10:29 AM EDT

Women are constantly in the spotlight when it comes to body image issues and eating disorders. Yet men also suffer from the same difficulties; however, they're often overlooked since it's less common for them.

Researchers from the University of Oxford and the University of Glasgow conducted a study on the subject. They interviewed 39 young people between the ages 16 and 25, including ten men, asking them about their experiences of diagnosis, treatment, and support for eating disorders.

Men also experience hardships with anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating, purging, calorie counting, excessively exercising and checking their weight. For example, once considered a "women's disorder," a 2011 study found that men are just as likely to suffer from issues with binge eating. To be exact, 10% of men suffer from the issue.

Among the interviews conducted in the UK study, two of the men told the researchers that they thought eating disorders only affected "fragile teenage girls" and that they were something "only girls got." One recalls being told to "man up" by his doctor when he expressed concern with a potential eating disorder.

"Our findings suggest that men may experience particular problems in recognising that they may have an eating disorder as a result of the continuing cultural construction of eating disorders as uniquely or predominantly a female problem," said Dr. Ulla Raisanen and Dr. Kate Hunt, the study's coauthors, in this BBC News article.

Their study, entitled, "The Role of Gendered Constructions of Eating Disorders in Delayed Help-Seeking in Men: A Qualitative Interview Study," was published in the BMJ Open medical journal. They found that eating disorders are actually more complex than they appear because they're rooted in genetics, the environment, and cultural pressures.

To read more about the University of Oxford and University of Glasgow study about eating disorders, visit this ABC News article.

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