anorexiainmenAnorexia 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.

Eating-DisorderWhat is bulimia and what are the side effects of this eating disorder?

Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder characterized by a person eating large amounts of food at a time (binging) and then throwing up all of the food (purging). In many cases, a person with bulimia will eat and throw up food as a type of relief from emotional problems. Weight control and major stress in life are other examples of why someone may be suffering from bulimia. In some cases, those who struggle with bulimia also struggle with anorexia. Those with anorexia however, tend to be underweight while those with bulimia are often of a normal weight, although it tends to fluctuate by a few pounds.

People with bulimia often have low self-esteem and poor body image. When bulimics throw up they use a variety of methods. These methods may include self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives and diuretics, or exercise.

Research shows that most bulimics start their habits before the age of 25. Nine out of ten people with bulimia are women. Some argue, however, that men make up a larger percentage of those with bulimia than is typically believed.

Bulimia nervosa may seem to be less damaging because it is much easier to hide than the eating disorder anorexia. While a person with anorexia nervosa will look emaciated rather quickly, it can take months of severe bulimia to until effects begin to present themselves.

It is important to seek treatment for bulimia as soon as possible because it can be extremely dangerous and even fatal. About 10% of individuals suffering from bulimia will die from starvation, heart attack, other medical effects, or suicide.

  • Signs of Bulimia include:
  • Out of control eating
  • Pain in the stomach
  • Dehydration
  • Hoarding food
  • Bruised or callused hands and knuckles
  • Frequent change in moods
  • Sore jaw
  • Constant trips to the bathroom to throw up (often right after meals)
  • Use of laxatives or diuretics
  • Eating large amounts of food at once (binging)
  • Swollen cheeks
  • Problems with blood vessels in the eyes
  • Eating alone
  • Frequent exercise
  • Low self-esteem

Treatment for bulimia is often multi-faceted, comprising both medical and psychological treatment.

The side effects of a bulimia eating disorder can be extremely harmful to a person’s health and well-being. Often times, a person struggling with an eating disorder is less concerned with the disorder’s side effects due to the condition’s overpowering nature.

In addition to the psychological impact, bulimia’s side effects can cause irreparable physical damage. Restrictive, compulsive, and weight controlling behaviors like self-induced purging and inappropriate use of laxatives or diuretics can cause a multitude of other health complications and medical conditions.

Potential Physical Effects of a Bulimic Eating disorder include:

  • Tooth enamel erosion because of repeated exposure to acidic gastric contents
  • Dental cavities, sensitivity to hot or cold food
  • Swelling and soreness in the salivary glands (from repeated vomiting)
  • Stomach Ulcers
  • Ruptures of the stomach and esophagus
  • Abnormal buildup of fluid in the intestines
  • Disruption in the normal bowel release function
  • Electrolyte imbalance.
  • Dehydration
  • Irregular heartbeat and in severe cases, heart attack
  • A greater risk for suicidal behavior
  • Esophageal problems
  • Vocal chord damage
  • Osteoporosis or decreased bone density
  • Hair loss
  • Digestive problems
  • Decreased body temperature
  • Organ damage
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Enlarged salivary glands
  • Dry skin
  • Menstrual dysfunction
  • Hormone irregularities
  • Insomnia
  • Low red blood cell levels
  • Weak muscles
  • Immune system damage
  • Out of control feelings
  • Mood changes
  • Avoidance of others
  • Constantly thinking about food
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Unable to eat with others
  • Poor body image


Further, it is estimated that one third of people struggling with a bulimic eating disorder use laxatives, and roughly 10% take diuretics. Various effects include:

  • Laxative abuse
  • Chronic intestinal inflammation
  • Chronic constipation
  • Irregular bowel function
  • Systemic toxicity
  • Diuretic abuse
  • Kidney damage
  • Body fluid stagnation
  • Blood pressure complication

Other bulimia side effects include difficulty conceiving a child as well as a larger risk of miscarriage and premature birth after conception. Bulimia side effects damage a woman’s body, which can physically inhibit her from having healthy children in the future.

For some, it may seem like there’s no escape from a bulimic eating disorder, but recovery is possible. With treatment, support from others, and smart self-help strategies, one can overcome a bulimic eating disorder and gain true self-confidence. and

Eating Disorder Statistics

Eating Disorder Statistics

Eating disorders statistics:  Stereotypical or surprising?

Everyone’s heard a lot about eating disorders statistics and many of us think we can picture the girl who struggles with this difficult addiction.  She’s tiny, almost frail-like, pretty though, probably Caucasian, social – she even makes us feel jealous because she’s so cute…right?  WRONG!!  Believe it or not, “she” isn’t always female.  In fact, an estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males!  Surprise!  Yep, that’s right, not only have Paula Abdul, Joan Rivers, and Princess Di battled eating disorders, Elton John has too.  Also, minorities have the exact same rates of eating disorders as white people. And, these individuals may be socially withdrawn to hide their addiction, their skin, hair, and teeth suffer may from their diets making them less attractive (especially to themselves), and depending on their eating disorder, they may even be overweight. So much for stereotypes!

Speaking of eating disorder statistics… it is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men.  Interestingly, 2 to 3 of every 100 women in America suffer from bulimia and 1 in every 200 suffers from anorexia.   Skewed body image perceptions are starting very young too – which isn’t a surprise considering how our culture worships flesh. Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents, 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25, and 50% of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight.

As far as mortality rates go, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and a recent study indicates that the mortality rate associated with anorexia is 12 times higher than the death rate of all cause of death for females 15-24 years old.  Let’s help these people out!  If you, or someone you love is struggling with this illness, help is available.  But, only 1 out of 10 people who have an eating disorder actually get treatment and many of those who do don’t stick with it long enough to make a difference.  Being educated about eating disorders and statistics, supportive, and loving to these individuals (or to yourself if you are fighting this) can improve individual lives and society as a whole.

Statistics from

Read some interesting statistics today on eating disorders.

It is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men

  • One in 200 American women suffers from anorexia
  • Two to three in 100 American women suffers from bulimia
  • Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder (Note: One in five Americans suffers from mental illnesses.)
  • An estimated 10 – 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males
  • And here are the mortality statistics…again…very scary!

  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness
  • A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that 5 – 10% of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease; 18-20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years and only 30 – 40% ever fully recover
  • The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old.
  • 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems
  • (Source:  South Carolina Depart of Health)

    Our dual diagnosis therapist know too well that this disease is a tough one to battle.  Typically our eating disorder clients are with us longer than the addiction clients.

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