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Medscape: Men With Eating Disorders Don’t Seek Help

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The misperception that eating disorders (EDs) are largely a female problem is preventing men with these problems from getting the help they need, new research shows.

A small, qualitative interview study of young men between the ages of 16 and 25 years with EDs, including anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN), showed that men were slow to recognize that their experiences and behaviors were potential signs and symptoms of an ED. In addition, none of the study participants were even aware of what ED symptoms entail.

The study also showed that friends, family, teachers, and even healthcare professionals were also slow to recognize these symptoms.


“Clinicians need to be aware that men also do suffer from eating disorders, they may be far more common in men than has been thought, and [clinicians need to be] sensitive to diagnosing eating disorders in patients presenting to them, regardless of their gender.”


“They also delayed seeking help because they feared they wouldn’t be taken seriously by healthcare professionals, or didn’t know where to go for support,” they add.

The participants described mixed experiences with health services. Most had to wait for long periods for a specialist referral, several were misdiagnosed (including for depression), and 1 reported being told to “man up” by a physician.

The researchers note that delays in diagnosing and treating EDs may be caused by a “lack of understanding and training among health professionals.”

The participants also reported that they received very little information targeted specifically toward men about EDs, and were told that was because it did not really exist.

“Men with EDs are underdiagnosed, undertreated and under-researched,” write the investigators.

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