Magazines, newspaper, television, radio programmes and books do describe Eating Distress as mostly female’s issues. Males do develop this condition as well and not only in resent times. This was observed over three hundred years ago. In 1964 London physician Richard Morton for the first time reported case of anorexia nervosa in 16-year old male. Admitting to an eating disorder is difficult to anyone, but even more difficult for males due to the perceived notion that only females suffer from these illnesses. The number of female being open to treatment exceed that of males, males do suffer much more in silence and isolation.
The National Centre for Health Statistics (USA) states that 48% of males are trying to lose weight. Men undergo 25% of all cosmetic surgeries in USA.
Male suffers were overlooked and understudied. Many programs are treating female suffers only. Males struggling with Eating Distress were often teased more about their bodies while growing up and were preferred less for athletic teams. Last twenty years reported cases of males with Eating Distress have been steadily increasing. Media and professionals are paying more attention to this issue. An Article in the Los Angeles Times /1995/ on this subject, stated that roughly one million males in USA are suffering from Eating Distress. 1996 Dennis Brown, Super Bowl defensive end, reveal that he used laxative, diuretics, and self-induced vomiting to control his weight. He was reprimanded by coaches and team officials that he was embarrassing the organisation.
Men’s bodies are more frequently the targets of advertising campaigns; leanness for men is increasingly being emphasised, and the number of male dieters and males reporting eating disorder continues to rise. Very often men with eating disorder are intensely athletic and to have begun dieting in order to attain greater sports achievement or from fear of gaining weight because of sport injury. Many men may fit another proposed but not yet accepted diagnostic category, referred to as compulsive exercise, compulsive athleticism.
According to Dr.Arnold Andersen, who wrote book on this subject, Males with Eating Disorders/Brunner/Mazel, 1990/ definitive answers are not available, but sociocultural influences appear to play a much bigger role than biological ones. Because a male suffer does not have a loss of a period as a symptom, it is common to misdiagnose or overlook them. Men with medical and health problems tend to be overly sensitive to eating disorders. Under nutrition also affects the male’s ability to procreate/Keys/, loss of sexual interest.
Men with Eating Distress exhibit an over-whelming fear of fatness and desire to maintain a masculine appearance or shape. It’s neither surprising nor uncommon to see males with Eating Distress overuse anabolic steroids to improve muscle tone and build strength. Side effects of steroid abuse may include several psychiatric symptoms, such as hallucinations, manic symptoms and depression. Medical side effects may include reduced sexual functioning. Characteristics of men who exercise extensively are similar to those of the female ones. Men become obsessed with exercising and view their worth according to how much they exercise. It becomes an addiction. Male jockeys, wrestlers, swimmers, and dancers see physical appearance as being vital to their success. This makes them more vulnerable to Eating Distress. Males who were wrestlers in high school and college often continue their bulimic trends after they give the sport.
It is difficult for men to reach out and ask for help because this condition is still very much considered as a ’women disease’. They may not want to come forward for fear that people will think the are gays. Many people automatically assume if a man has as eating disorder, then he must be gay. That is not true at all. Someone’s sexual preference has nothing to do with them developing as Eating Distress.
The reason men develop Eating Distress are no different then why a woman, child or anyone else would. They are super-sensitive and were subjected to more anxiety and negativity in the past. They experience the same feelings as anyone else. They have very low self-esteem, are perfectionists, over achievers and use this condition for expressing their emotions because they do not know any better way.
Recovery is a ‘finding’ or ‘re-discovery’ of the self that has only been experienced under the crippling and distorting influence of an Eating Distress. The focus needs to be placed on developing new ways of coping with stress other than through dysfunctional eating behaviours.