Bulimia, anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders, long thought to be serious problems for many women, are showing up among surprisingly large numbers of men, some of whom are starving themselves or exercising obsessively to look like the pictures in men’s magazines.
Yet neither men themselves, nor most doctors, think of males as being at risk for these illnesses, experts say.
Community-based studies suggest one case in three of anorexia nervosa is a male, said Dr. Blake Woodside, director of the program for eating disorders at Toronto General Hospital. For bulimia, it is about one in four. “And that’s a dramatic finding, because in clinical samples (based on people in treatment) it’s more like one in 15, or one in 20,” Woodside said.
The stigma, isolation and confusion around suffering from what has long been perceived as a “girl’s problem” can make men so reluctant to come forward that many arrive in treatment sicker than women.