Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Men and eating disorders

Many people wrongly assume eating disorders only affect teenage girls when in fact they are not exclusive to any age, cultural/racial background or gender. They usually develop around the age of 14-25 but can appear in middle age, and 10-20% of those diagnosed with an eating disorder are male. This figure however, is likely to be higher as the symptoms are less likely to be recognised in men and in addition men are less likely to seek help. Therefore eating disorders go largely undiagnosed in men and boys.

We use food when we are bored, anxious, angry, lonely, stressed, unhappy and struggling to cope with relationship and work problems, grief and traumatic events among other things. Many people develop an eating disorder because they feel ‘too fat’ or ‘not good enough’ and believe it is the only way they can feel in control of their life.

Eating disorders are often not the product of a single cause, but a trigger commonly cited for men is teasing or bullying about weight and body shape. Eating disorders can often be recognised in males when they become obsessive about fitness and over-exercise. This can put excessive strain on their heart and lungs and too much pressure on joints which in turn, can lead to muscular ailments. Another side effect of eating disorders, as well as lack of energy in the long term and osteoporosis more generally, is impotence and erectile dysfunction in men.

Genetics have been found to play a small part in the probability of an individual developing an eating disorder but equally, the attitude that key members in their lives have towards food can also affect them.

If you have a problem with your relationship with food and would like to talk to one our experienced practitioners, please contact your local First Psychology centre in the following locations: 

Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440, www.edinburghtherapy.co.uk
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411, www.glasgowpsychology.co.uk
Aberdeen: 01224-452-848, www.aberdeenpsychology.co.uk opening soon! 
Borders: 01896-800-400, www.borderspsychology.co.uk

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