When you think of eating disorders, many times we only think of the women. But the reality is that men are also plagued by eating disorders as well. Male anorexia and other eating disorders are a lot more prevalent than most people realize. This is especially true for teenage and young adult men. Because there is such a strong misconception that mostly women suffer from eating disorders, much stigma surrounds discussing and being open about male eating disorders. Therefore, many teenage and young adult men suffer from eating disorders without getting the help they need, or even realizing that they may have a problem. In order to directly address this widespread problem amongst men, it is important to raise awareness and knowledge of how eating disorders affect men. To learn more, read on about these 7 facts about male anorexia that you probably don’t know, but should.
Male anorexia is more prevalent than you think
Every year, approximately one million men suffer from male anorexia. This is a startling statistic in itself, but more so because there is very rarely any discussion about male anorexia or eating disorders. This means that there is likely a man in your work, school, family or friend circle who could be suffering from anorexia — who may feel they cannot speak up about their struggles, or may not even realize they have an issue to address.
Male anorexia is easier to hide
Because there is a misconception that men do not really suffer from eating disorders, typically no one is looking for the warning signs that men they know could have one. It’s also easier to hide because anorexia can be hidden with fitness or bodybuilding. Of course, not all men who are into fitness are anorexic, but there are several men who border on obsessive and unhealthy tendencies with their fitness regimes.
There are other issues that come with it
Just like women, men who suffer from anorexia often have other disorders that are related or directly influence it. Often, these men are dealing with obsessive compulsive disorder or anxiety and depression, so they use how they consume food as a means of some sort of control in their life. If there is a man in your life who may begin obsessing over their body and has a history of these other disorders, they may also be suffering from anorexia.
They may actually see themselves as overweight
Anorexia affects men the same way that it does women. Men who suffer from anorexia typically see themselves as being a higher weight than they actually are. This goes back to the prevalence of multiple disorders existing at once, as believing that you are bigger than what is actually reality is called body dysmorphia.
Male anorexia accounts for 20% of all cases
With the prior statistic being one million men suffering from anorexia each year, this actually accounts for a whopping 20% of all anorexia cases yearly. This figure illustrates just how many men are suffering from this disorder that we likely do not know about. Many men fall victim to anorexia because of the fashion industry. Just like women, men are met with unrealistic body standards promoted as normal and enviable when they see super fit, and super thin male models.
Male anorexia can drastically affect health
Women who suffer anorexia are likely to develop severe health conditions, and men are no exception to this either. When men have eating disorders, they commonly suffer from hair loss, brittle nails, dehydration, and digestive issues. If you know a man who has become obsessive about his body, and is also suffering from these health issues, this could be a warning sign that he is also dealing with an eating disorder.
Male anorexia can be genetic
While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind in terms of causes, genetics have been linked to eating disorders like anorexia. Just like women who deal with anorexia, studies are showing that men may have anorexia as a result of genetic predispositions. Some men who have parents that suffer from anorexia could be more likely to develop the disorder themselves.