Anorexia in Men: More Common Than You’d Think
Although most associate anorexia nervosa with women, studies show that many men suffer from the disorder as well. Anorexia is a severe, life-threatening disorder in which the individual refuses to maintain a minimally normal body weight, is intensely afraid of gaining weight, and exhibits a significant distortion in the perception of the shape or size of his body, as well as dissatisfaction with his body shape and size.
In men, behavioral characteristics can include: difficulty eating with others, lying about eating, frequently weighing self, preoccupation with food, focus on certain body parts, and/or disgust with body size or shape. These men may also participate in excessive dieting, fasting, restricted diets and have food rituals. They may have a preoccupation with body-building, weight lifting, or muscle toning and exercise compulsively.
Emotionally and mentally, men with anorexia tend to be depressed, isolate themselves socially, perfectionistic, controlling, and have a low sense of self worth. They often also have an intense fear of becoming fat or gaining weight and may have difficulty expressing their feelings.
Physically, anorexic men often have a low body weight (15% or more below what is expected for age, height, activity level). They have thinning hair or hair loss, low testosterone levels, decreased balance, lack of energy and lower body temperature, pulse rate and blood pressure.
In a recent study conducted by the National Eating Disorders Association, they found that 10 million men in the United States will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. Further, 33 % of adolescent males use unhealthy weight control behaviors, 37% of men who binge eat experience depression, and 43% of American men are dissatisfied with their bodies.
So, with those staggering statistics, eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa, are not specific to women. Men struggle a lot with their eating perceptions and body perceptions as well.