Eating disorders - not just a female issue
Posted Wednesday 20 January 2010
A guest post from Sam Thomas of the Men Get Eating Disorders Too website and campaign
Eating disorders is an issue that is often considered to be a female only issue, but it seems conditions such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder are on the increase among men, quite possibly at an alarming rate. Thus suggesting men are under more pressures than ever before.
Last September, a professor in St Georges Hospital in London had reported seeing more male than female anorexia cases. He said he thought that there was more prevalence in the women and girls than there was in males but that there is a particular increase among young men getting referrals. In a ward of 20, there were three male inpatients on average during the summer months, whilst in previous years it would often be the case that there were no men at all.
The NHS Information Centre published statistics last year suggesting that 2.7 million people in the country have some kind of disordered eating and men make up a quarter. This is a significant rise from the figure of 10 to 15 per cent of cases only ten years ago.
The reasons why more men are developing eating disorders is complex. Research carried out by the leading eating disorders charity B-eat has suggested that many cases of male anorexia are down to excessive bodybuilding and exercise. Various pieces of research have shown that men are getting increasingly dissatisfied with their bodies. The cultural endorsement of the ‘perfect body’ in men’s magazines could play a significant role.
Other possible triggers could include: family and home life, relationships, sexuality, faith, money and work issues. You may remember MP John Prescott revealing he was bulimic throughout his years in office as Deputy Prime Minister – this shows even the most seemingly tough and powerful men are susceptible to developing an eating disorder.
Earlier last year, I began a mission to address this need by establishing Men Get Eating Disorders Too, a website and campaign aimed at raising awareness of eating disorders in men, to enable men to seek support.
Having had bulimia throughout my teens and early adult years, I knew first hand the difficulties men experienced getting professional help. Many of the websites I had come across seemed to be targeted at women and I realised that this may put off men as it may make them feel they have a ‘woman’s illness’.
The website provides information and advice on eating disorders that is specific to men, and acts as a bridge to support services available. It's also a platform for men to tell their stories and get their voices heard, with a forum where men can share experiences and offer and receive peer support.
Sam Thomas, Men Get Eating Disorders Too
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