According to general statistic one out of ten patients with eating disorders is a man. That means that men are 10% of all eating disorders suffers, but according to the opinions of many experts the number could even be higher. The problem with men is that they are reluctant to come and complain about their problems and hide their problems longer than women do. All these make it hard to show an accurate statistic for male-sufferers.

Clinicians agree that diagnosing anorexia and bulimia in men is more difficult than it is in women despite identical behaviours. Men are also much more likely to be diagnosed with depression associated with appetite disturbances.

A large proportion of men suffering from eating disorders are athletes. There is a tendency among male-athletes to diet or avoid certain foods in order to achieve a target weight or body image.

Other occupations which are prone to developing eating disorders are horse racing, modelling, dancing, distance running and driving.

The lack of visibility of eating disorders in men means a number of things.

First, men don’t discuss anorexia-bulimia problems and they don’t share their information with other men. Most of them think that the topic is a female issue.

Second, men associate beauty with body mass, muscle bulge and definition, not weight loss. For many men admitting that they have an eating disorder can undermine their masculinity. This makes men keep their secret about their eating problems to themselves if they have one.

Third, men think that society expects them to be tough and seeking help for emotional problems (especially something related to food) makes many males feel uncomfortable, so they don’t do it.

Nevertheless, the statistic shows that:

- About 3% of men diet all the time or at least ten times a year.

- About 10-14% of young men deliberately vomit after meals in order to control weight and/or relief their stressful feelings.

- Up to 21% of men have history of binge eating (when they binge food to moderate their emotions).

The latest studies also showed that psychologically male eating disorders are similar to female eating disorders. They both have similar emotional grounds and start for similar reasons.

What are the kind of strategies we can use for prevention and early intervention of male eating disorders?

1. We should recognise that eating disorders do not discriminate on the basis of gender and men can be affected the same as women.

2. We need to learn about the warning signs of eating disorders in men: weight fluctuations, extreme concerns about weight and body image, general withdrawal from others, extreme fussiness regarding eating certain foods, mood swings, frequent measurements of their own body and weight, counting calories and reading food labels, overexercising and the like.

3. We must understand that certain activities and professions (being an athlete, actor, dancer, jockey etc.) put men at risk of developing eating disorders.

4. We should talk with young men about cultural attitudes to “masculinity” and how it is portrayed by media.

5. Encourage male’s involvement in traditional “non-masculine” activities such as shopping, laundry, and cooking.

6. Demonstrate our respect for gay men.

7. Should never emphasise body size or shape as an indication of a man’s worth or identity as a man.

8. We should confront others who try to tease men who do not meet traditional cultural expectation for masculinity.

9. As parents and teachers we should listen carefully what young men are saying about their feelings and emotions and take them seriously.

10. All fathers should understand their important role in the prevention of eating problems in their sons by not degrading them if they are not interested in sport or other so called manly events.

To conclude, male eating disorders are an important issue nowadays. Understanding, talking openly about these problems will help enormously to fight it. Encourage men to talk and share their experiences will be the first important step to overcoming it.

Author's Bio: 

Dr Irina Webster MD is the Director of Eating Disorder Institute. She is an author of many books and a public speaker. To read about eating disorders books go to