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Eating disorders in males: the myths, the reality … and how to get treatment

05.03.2018 - Articles, Eating disorders

Eating disorders in males are not a problem that you may traditionally think of as being particularly widespread. However, it’s a myth to suggest that disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia are an issue that’s exclusive to women.

In fact, around one in three people with eating disorders are men. The reality is that problems of this nature affect people from a wide range of backgrounds, regardless of gender, income or ethnicity. 

The National Eating Disorders Association in New York states that 10 million adult males are affected in the US. Meanwhile, admissions to hospital for male eating disorders in the UK have increased by 70% in recent years.

Risks factors and harm

Problems often start at a young age – and unfortunately there is a high mortality rate. For example, between 5% and 10% of anorexics will die within 10 years of contracting the disease. As with other types of eating disorder, anorexia in men is becoming more common.

The effects of eating disorders are actually very similar in both men and women. Problems typically occur when an individual uses their relationship with food as away of coping with emotional or psychological issues.

Once a disorder takes hold, it creates a cycle of anxiety and isolation, which is repeated to achieve the desired effect. It may involve one or more of the following:

  • Excessive fasting
  • Eating binges
  • Purging after meals
  • Use of diet pills or laxatives
  • Obsession with food
  • Over-exercising

Risks include major damage to bodily organs and significant harm to mental health.  Thankfully, it is possible to get treatment for eating disorders in males by seeking help from a qualified professional.

Treatment for male eating disorders

Eating disorders such as anorexia in men and women are typically linked to underlying causes such as genetics, psychology and life experiences.  Sometimes difficulties can stem from a fear of growing up. Furthermore, some people may have experienced trauma through social interactions or through sexual or physical abuse.

Dr. Konrad Hitz is Medical Director at The Kusnacht Practice, a luxury treatment centre in Zurich, which offers care plans that are tailored to the unique needs of each client.

He believes it is important to create a safe and confidential environment in which individuals can explore any issues. Care typically involves psychotherapy alongside other forms of treatment such as Bio-R (Biomolecular Restoration).

Dr. Hitz said: “The tailored treatment that we offer for eating disorders is not just about what’s best for anorexia nervosa, bulimia or any other eating disorder. It’s also about understanding your story. This enables our experts to provide support in order to restore a healthy rhythm to a client’s life.”

If you would like more information on eating disorders, please fill out our form or call us for a confidential assessment.