Studies suggest that anorexia is a growing problem for men. Research conducted by Toronto General hospitals suggests that as many as one in three people diagnosed with the eating disorder are now male.
Doctors hope that the research will dispel myths that eating disorders are a “girl’s issue.” Many men go untreated as they are reluctant to seek help. Joana Anderson is a clinical director for “Sheena’s Place,” which provides treatment for eating disorders. As reported by National Post, she has seen the problem firsthand:
“For men there is still such a stigma attached to the idea of having an eating disorder and reaching out for help. If you go for treatment and you’re in a group with 10 or 12 women and you’re the only man, it’s very difficult to feel like you’re not different.”
Doctors report that men develop eating disorders for the same reasons as women. The problems can begin with young boys who are bullied. For many, eating disorders are coping mechanisms that offer them a perceived sense of control.
Cultural influences such as pressure to attain the “perfect body,” contribute to the problem as well. Men, like women, can become obsessed with pressure to have the ideal figure.
Merryl Bear, of the National Eating Disorder Information Center, asserts that in recent years, advertising has been leaning toward promoting the “ideal” male body. IN an interview with National Post, Bear explained his opinion:
“There has been a much stronger link between advertising and a particular glorification of the male physique in recent years. The social ideal of the male body has become much more tightly linked to personal success. And they’re told they can manage that by controlling their bodies.”
As reported by GQ, anorexic men who realize they need help might have a difficult time finding it as many counseling and treatment centers do not offer their services to men:
“Some centers prefer not to treat men, because they may inadvertently remind female clients of the trauma they have endured at the hands of abusive fathers, husbands, or lovers. Of the fifty-eight residential treatment centers listed in the Alliance for Eating Disorder Awareness’s 2011-12 guide, only twenty-five admit men.”
As Anorexia becomes an increasing problem for men, studies can help promote awareness. Education and information may help decrease the stigma so men can get the help that they desperately need.