This is a Guest Blog written by Michelle Peterson of RecoveryPride.org
The vast majority of education about eating disorders is focused on women. Admittedly, women are twice as likely to develop an eating disorder due to oppressive societal standards. However, male eating disorders are just as dangerous and far less discussed.
Though men are less likely to develop one of these disorders, it is important to include men in the discussion. About 10 million men in America will develop an eating disorder each year. That’s plenty of risk, warranting an education for both men and women when it comes to these life-altering mental illnesses. Here are a few things to know about men and eating disorders.
Men Can Have Negative Self-Image
Though women receive the brunt of societal expectations, men also receive pressure to be strong, masculine, muscular, and emotionless. Being fit is commonly considered mandatory for male attractiveness. Since “thin” and “fit” are often incorrectly viewed as synonymous, men can easily fall prey to an eating disorder in an attempt to look more fit and, therefore, more attractive..
Men Suffer From Binge Eating Equally as Often as Women
Of course, not all eating disorders cause weight loss. Binge eating has been shown to be roughly as common in men as in women. This disorder falls under the category of “subclinical,” meaning it is not considered severe nor will it result in death.
Anorexia and bulimia are considered clinical as they can cause permanent damage and even death. In studies of subclinical disorders, men actually fall equal to women whereas clinical disorders are more common in women.
Though subclinical disorders such as binge eating are not technically dangerous, they can certainly cause a slew of health problems and often tell of a much deeper issue. Do not ignore binge eating if you see the signs in a loved one. Seek help.
Males Face Additional Stigma and Often Go Untreated
Eating disorders are often associated with women who want to lose weight. While women do face a stigma thanks to misconceptions and misinformation about eating disorders, men have great difficulty. Not only will others believe that they have done this to themselves and just need to stop, but they will also be ridiculed for behaving like a woman.
These two hardships men with eating disorders face can result in undiagnosed disorders and lack of treatment. With the potential fatality of some eating disorders, these stigmas are much more harmful than one might think.
Men are too often left out of the conversation on eating disorders. They have been viewed as a women’s problem and little more than an effort to lose weight when in reality, eating disorders can affect anyone and are typically the result of an underlying issue.
Of course, societal standards on appearance do not help the problem nor does the lack of education the public has on eating disorders. If you notice a male loved one avoiding food, purging, or binge eating, do not shrug it off. With 10 million men a year falling prey to eating disorders, it is not unlikely that your loved one needs help.
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