Eating Disorders: Not for Women Only

While most people associate eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia with women, men suffer from these disorders, too.

In fact, at least one million American men have an eating disorder, reports this article from New Jersey's Bergen Record. And, the actual number may be significantly higher because men don't seek help as often as women do, the story says.

It seems hard for men to admit they have a problem, as the perception is that guys aren't supposed to have eating disorders.

"Men don't come in for treatment for the most part unless there is a medical problem," says Betty Lesnevich, a clinical dietetics manager at Chilton Memorial Hospital in Pequannock, New Jersey.

Family members and physicians aren't as quick to pick up on the problem in men for several reasons. One is that it's simply more socially acceptable for a man to binge eat.

Another is that a man's body doesn't undergo the same hormonal changes that a woman's does that can alert a doctor to a potential problem. And, men often counter their bingeing with excessive exercise rather than throwing up.

Some eating disorders have developed in men or boys involved in competitive sports programs, such as wrestlers who take extreme measures to maintain specific weight levels, and professional jockeys who have a winning edge at a lower weight. Also vulnerable are gymnasts, runners, body builders, rowers, dancers, and swimmers because their sports also necessitate severe weight restrictions.

But for men, as with women, the consequences of eating disorders can be devastating to the body. Men with eating disorders may even suffer a greater loss of bone mass than women.

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