Eating disorders have long been perceived to occur primarily in women; few disorders in general medicine or psychiatry exhibit such a skew in gender distribution. Men and women with eating disorders share common risk factors and exhibit some overlap in clinical presentation, but important differences do exist. Determining which factors best explain these differences remain uncertain. Furthermore, despite a marked increase in the incidence of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa in women over the last 50 years, the awareness of eating disorders in men remains low. This is in spite of the fact that men represent 10-20% of cases of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and up to 40% of cases of binge eating disorder. Similarly, recent research has focused on the assumption and stereotype that eating disorders in men are associated with homosexuality, when male body image objectification and body dissatisfaction are also widespread in younger heterosexual men who are being increasingly confronted with the same impossible body image ideals that already challenge women and gay men. The stigma of being a man with an eating disorder continues, and we persist in attempting to fit men with eating disorders into a theoretical and clinical framework largely focused on the physical, psychological, and emotional development of women. This article reviews the literature on eating disorders in men and explores the factors that may explain this gender discrepancy.
Journal of Public Mental Health – Pier Professional
Published: Jan 1, 2010
Keywords: eating disorders