Eating disorders are not usually associated with men. Typically, we think of eating disorders as being primarily associated with females. However, could this be because unhealthy relationships towards food are expressed differently for men, not meeting diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder? Take, for instance, the man who exercises excessively, but is not necessarily expressing a desire to change his body shape; he avoids certain needed foods developing an unhealthy perspective about eating. Dr Peter Rowan, consultant psychiatrist at Cygnet Hospital Ealing’s Eating Disorders Unit, describes men who are obsessed with fitness, who name their exercise as being for heart health or prolonged life, who “avoid certain types of food… and some may develop a very unhealthy relationship to food and eat restrictively. And by doing so, they maintain a low weight.”
The BBC2 recently hosted a spot called “Manorexia,” which discussed the different ways in which men may express eating disorders. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medical News Today that discusses these ideas more:
‘Eating disorders are still rare among men,’ explains Dr Peter Rowan, consultant psychiatrist at Cygnet Hospital Ealing’s Eating Disorders Unit. ‘The incidence in males over the age of puberty who suffer with anorexia, for instance, is around 10 percent or so.
‘But the longer we study all eating disorders, the more we discover variations of disorder that don’t quite fit the classical diagnoses For instance, among women there are not only bulimics but there are also those who suffer with binge eating disorder, and, of course EDNOS (eating disorders not otherwise specified).’
According to Dr Rowan, there are also many men who have an unhealthy relationship with food who don’t fit the diagnostic criteria – which are, of course, designed for women. For instance some men are obsessed with fitness, but not necessarily because they are trying to change their body shape. Some may, for example, become addicted to exercise in an attempt to live longer and avoid coronary heart disease.