Like Women, Even Men and Boys Suffer From Anorexia

First Posted: Sep 30, 2014 08:09 AM EDT

A new study knocks the popular belief that anorexia only affects women; it seems that men and boys are as susceptible to the disorder.

Researchers at the University of Montreal highlight the prevalence of anorexia in men and boys. They reviewed data of 24 studies that was conducted over 15 years and involved 279 participants of ages 11-36. Based on the data, the researchers noticed seven related variables and confirmed these variables as - clinical presentation, pre-existing conditions to the disorder, personality characteristics, sexual orientation and activity, gender identify and co morbid disorders. They found that almost 10 percent of males suffer from the disorder and this number might be a conservative estimate.

"Most of the knowledge about anorexia pertains to females. However, about 10% of persons affected are males, and we believe this figure is underestimated," says Laurence Corbeil-Serre, lead author of the study. "Our results show that there appear to be similarities between the behavioural symptoms of males and females, but certain particularities can be identified in males, especially related to personality, gender identity, and sexual orientation."

The study clearly reveals that both males and females are affected by anorexia and they have similar fear of weight gain and getting fat. In the study, the participants with the disorder had an average BMI of 16.1,  and were listed as being in a state of malnutrition.

Among men, the dissatisfaction with the body image was more linked to the mass of the muscle, the social norm of male beauty. Also physical exercise was far ahead of the rituals around food and vomiting in the list of  various strategies to lose weight and behavior linked with anorexia nervosa.  Also the rate of homosexuality among the participants was much higher than in the general population.

"We postulate that the importance of physical appearance in the gay community exacerbates the disorder once it is present and results in an overrepresentation of homosexual patients in treatment units. As well, anorexia nervosa may be a way to delay sexual issues for individuals with a conflictual or questioning homosexual orientation," says Corbeil-Serre. 

The study was published in the journal Neuropsychiatrie de l'enfance et de l'adolescence. 

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