Male Eating Disorders are Increasingly Common

Male Eating Disorders are Increasingly Common

When most people think about people who suffer from eating disorders, they tend to picture females. And, make no mistake, eating disorders in females are far more prevalent than they are in the male population. However, according to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, 10 million males will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. In this post, we’ll explore the topic of male eating disorders, and we’ll show you what to look for if you suspect your son may be struggling with anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder.

A smiling teenage boy stands outside with his friends after overcoming an eating disorder
Binge eating disorder is one of the most common eating disorders in adolescent boys.

Understanding Why Boys Get Eating Disorders

There is no singular cause of eating disorders in young boys. Some risk factors are environmental, some are biological and some are psychological. Today, we generally think of male eating disorders as the result of a combination of several different factors.

Environmental Eating Disorder Factors

  • Trouble at home
  • Childhood trauma
  • Unrealistic media portrayal
  • Pressure from friends or family
  • Stressful life changes

Biological Eating Disorder Factors

  • Personal genetics
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Hormone imbalances

Psychological Eating Disorder Factors

  • Negative body image
  • Body dysmorphia
  • Poor self-esteem

Most Common Eating Disorders in Boys

While boys can struggle from all types of eating disorders, one of the most common is binge eating disorder (BED). This condition is characterized by repeated instances of extreme over-eating without increases in exercise or self-induced vomiting to compensate. Learn more about BED.

Exercise addiction, also known as Anorexia Athleticism, is another common eating disorder in boys. Symptoms of exercise addiction can be similar to those of Anorexia Nervosa, including restlessness, physical over-activity and self-starvation.

Male Eating Disorder Symptoms

Adolescent boys who have eating disorders are less likely to seek help than adolescent girls. In part, some experts speculate this is due to the stereotype that eating disorders are a female problem. If you think your son might have an eating disorder, here’s what you should look for:

  • Constant weight fluctuations
  • Chronic dieting
  • Severe over-eating accompanied by extreme guilt
  • Skipping meals
  • Depression and lethargy
  • Hiding food or secretive eating habits

To learn more about common eating disorder warning signs, please see our post: “Does My Child Have an Eating Disorder?”

What to Do if You Think Your Son Has an Eating Disorder

If you’ve observed any of the above symptoms in your son, the best thing to do is learn more about eating disorders and the co-occurring conditions that can sometimes come along with them. Then, although it may not be easy, you’ll want to have a talk with your child. When you’re ready to get professional help, the experts at Adolescent Growth are here for you and your family. Learn more about eating disorder treatment program, or call us today.