Think of high profile victims of eating disorders, deaths caused by anorexia bulimia and the following names will jump straight to your mind: Karen Carpenter, Margaux Hemingway, Ana Carolina Reston, Isabella Caro. When we think of people who are surviving it we think of Paula Abdul, Geri Halliwell and Nicole Ritchie. The one thing they have in common, clearly, is that they are all women. Popular perception of eating disorders is that this is a uniquely female disease.
I have covered BDD in men before and it is almost as common as it is in women. BDD is naturally one of the biggest catalysts for eating disorders.
As you can see from the infographic above, it is far more common in men than we are being told – this is not strictly a woman’s condition This male mental health nurse has spoken out about his ordeal with depression and specifically, the eating disorders he has suffered throughout his life. A recent report by the BBC suggests that eating disorders in men are commonly overlooked, largely because men themselves are not aware of the common symptoms and are less likely to identify eating disorder in themselves. This could also be because of the media image of being a woman’s disease and the focus in the media far more on women’s body image and (arguably) the greater gravity with which the death of a woman is reported compared to men.
I have pondered in recent months whether my sudden weight loss in 2012 was also fuelled by an eating disorder. I started running which was better for my health, naturally. I had less of an appetite – a common symptom in men going through a bad break up, or may or may not have been a side effect of the anti-depressants I was taking at the time. I went from 16st 7lb in mid July to 13st 7lb in by the end of October. That’s a stone (14lb) every month and most of it I lost in September when I was at my lowest point.
Perhaps I did and some of the symptoms on the resources below show that it was likely. Nevertheless, I was still slightly overweight for my height (and still am now, but I am comfortable and happy with my weight though I aim to lose another stone) at the time so never suffered physically because of it.
If you are a man suffering from eating disorders, there are many places you can get help:
mengetedstoo.co.uk is the UK’s biggest charity and resource.
NEDC is Australia’s biggest ED resource
nationaleatingdisorders.org has a page dedicated specifically to men’s issues
Finally, ANAD also has a page