Males With Eating Disorders Suffering In Silence

While eating disorders seem to be an inherently female problem, experts say it’s time to give males some more attention.

For a long time, males were thought to comprise only about 10 percent of eating disorder cases, but now that number seems to hover around 25 percent for anorexia or bulimia and 40 percent for binge eating.

Raising awareness

Dr. Blake Woodside, medical director of the eating disorders program at the Toronto General Hospital in Ontario, says that changing the public perception of eating disorders is imperative in helping males overcome body images challenges.

“Raising awareness is probably the most important thing,” he said. “We have to lower the bar a little bit about being concerned when men lose a lot of weight.”

Recently, the National Eating Disorder Information Centre launched a campaign to bring more attention to the issue, with a poster carrying the caption, “Men with Eating Disorders: It’s not the Name of a Band.”

Woodside notes that, developmentally, skinny teenage boys tend to be the norm, and that parents might not think twice about a son’s thin frame.

Dual diagnoses

Studies have shown that men with eating disorders are more likely to also have mental health problems, like anxiety and depression, making them an even more vulnerable population.

Dr. Ted Weltzin, medical director of eating disorders services at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, says that men develop eating disorders for the same reasons women do: to have a sense of control, to fit in or to cope with poor body image issues.

And health experts agree that, in general, males are largely being ignored when it comes to prevention and treatment.

“It’s been a longstanding gap in the areas of understanding early intervention and treatment in eating disorders,” said Merryl Bear, director of the National Eating Disorder Information Centre, a nonprofit organization based in Toronto. “Men have been neglected in that area.”

Source: CMAJ; Photo: Robert Popkin

Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

Find a Treatment Facility Near You

Click on a state below to find eating disorder treatment options that could be right for you.

The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes and we encourage all visitors to see a licensed physician if they believe that they have an eating disorder. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

Copyright © 2008-2019
Company Information

© 2019 All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of's terms of service and privacy policy. The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.