Men Battling The Skinny Jean & Eating Disorders

Despite the number of men with eating disorders continuing to rise, men with eating disorders feel invisible and unable to seek professional help, according to research by the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM). They have found that men with eating disorders felt alone and worried about the stigma surrounding male eating disorders.


It is now estimated that at least 10 per cent of binge eaters, anorexics and bulimia sufferers are male. Interestingly, rates of eating disorders among men are on the rise, whereas rates among women have remained largely the same over the last 10 years.


The stigma around males and body image means males find it even harder to acknowledge they have an eating disorder and seek help. Males showing signs of eating disorders are less likely to be recognised and diagnosed by professionals including GPs and psychiatrists.


The buzz at London Fashion Week is that the fashion industry’s obsession with body weight is no longer confined to women. Men, and in particular male models, are increasingly aspiring to unrealistic, unobtainable and unhealthy body shapes.


Dr Mountford, in her research, spent a great deal of time talking to men suffering with eating and body image problems.


“They told me they felt male eating disorders were an invisible issue and that eating disorders were thought to only affect women. They felt very alone with their eating disorders and worried about how people would react if they found out,” Dr Mountford explained.


“The men we spoke to had found it difficult to admit to themselves and others that their eating behaviours were problematic and that they needed some support. This meant that many of the men waited a considerable amount of time before seeking help.”


The greatest challenge surrounding body image issues and eating disorders in men, is that men historically find it difficult to share and discuss emotional issues they may be facing. This is a problem when disordered eating behaviour and distorted body image is becoming increasingly prevalent in males.


Without greater awareness of the problem, many men will continue to suffer in silence and shame, and the underlying stresses that often precede disordered eating will continue to go undetected. Greater awareness of how men can access help and support is needed. This is not just a women’s issue.