Male Eating Disorders Continue to Grow but Stigma Persists

In this tumblr post, NEDIC Director, Merryl Bear comments on new research from the Canadian Medical Association that finds men are often misdiagnosed becuase no one thinks to look for eating disorders in men.  Read the full story here.

by LifeWorks Community
re-posted in tumblr by studentrunselfhelp, February 12, 2013 

More and more men are being diagnosed with eating disorders but their problem is often overlooked because of the stigma that EDs are a disease that only affects women.

New research from the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that eating disorders in men are often misdiagnosed because no one thinks to look for an ED in men. While some headway in treatment has been made in treating male EDs, the researchers say there is still a long way to go.

“With mythologies that exist around eating disorders it may not be the first thing that comes to mind, or even the second thing that comes to mind, for a doctor faced with a male who has an eating disorder,” says Merryl Bear, director of the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC).

“There are definitely barriers for anyone with an eating disorder in receiving treatment, and for males it can be much more challenging,” says Bear.

The NEDIC are currently trying to raise awareness for male EDs which they say can affect boys as young as nine. This is especially important because the longer it takes to diagnose an ED, the more engrained the disease becomes. This makes it harder to treat and can drastically increase the health consequences for sufferers.

With men making up an estimated quarter of all eating disorder patents the researchers say most treatment is still geared toward women.  This is a real problem as the number of men with eating disorders has been climbing over the last decade.

The researchers believe this increase could be caused by a shift in the male ideal. Fashion designers have begun moving from muscular models to overly thin models. This change has sparked controversy as several male models have been singled out as underweight and woefully irresponsible casting choices.

This shift in the male ideal of beauty and a barriers to treatment are very worrying. If these trends continue, male eating disorders could quickly become an even worse problem.

In attempt to stop this from happening, the study recommends educating doctors on the symptoms of male EDs and holding fashion companies responsible for hiring healthy models.