Why Are Men Anorexic?

People often ask why are men anorexic? After all, most anorexics are women. Statistics tell us anorexic men account for only about 10% of all anorexics. No one is quite sure why that is. Statistics may also be inaccurate, because men are much more reluctant to seek help for anorexia than women. Eating disorders and dieting and weight problems are viewed in our culture as a “woman’s problem.”

Why Are Men Anorexic?

One theory about the development of anorexia is that women become anorexic due to cultural pressure to be thin. Western culture and media present images of thin women as being beautiful and desirable, while men of larger size are still considered more acceptable. However, there is media pressure for men to be muscular and “fit.” This may be one reason why are men anorexic.

There is also a link between childhood sexual abuse and eating disorders in women. Since sexual abuse is less common in men, it is unknown if there is such a link between childhood abuse and anorexic men.

Both men and women who feel out of control in their lives may develop anorexia as a way of feeling in control. Controlling their food intake gives a sense of control that is otherwise lacking. It becomes a way of reducing anxiety. This is a common reason why women and why are men anorexic.

Why Are Men Anorexic

Recent studies have also found a number of athletes suffer anorexia or are at high risk for developing anorexia, due to the pressure to maintain low body weight in order to compete. Athletes in certain sports such as gymnastics, figure skating, and diving are at greater risk than others. Male athletes are at risk as well as females. For athletic men, this is a common reason why are men anorexic.

Signs Of Anorexia

Signs of anorexic men are the same as for women, and include the following:

  • Headaches, dizziness or fainting.
  • Frequently feeling cold or having “the chills.”
  • Eating very little.
  • Pretending to eat or lying about the amount that they eat.
  • Exercising obsessively.
  • May include vomiting after meals.
  • May include frequent use of laxatives.
  • Severe weight loss.
  • Being obsessed with weight and appearance.
  • Depression or moodiness.
  • Fatigue or lethargy.
  • Withdrawal from social situations.
  • Medical problems due to anorexia.

Medical Problems Due To Anorexia

There are many medical problems that can result from anorexia, including:

  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Low levels of potassium and magnesium in the body, which can lead to heart trouble.
  • Weak heart muscle and increased risk of heart failure.
  • Osteoporosis or loss of bones mass, causing brittle bones that break easily.
  • Gastro-intestinal problems, such as constipation, stomach pain, and ulcers.
  • Kidney and liver disease.
  • Dehydration.
  • Anemia.
  • If untreated, anorexia can result in death.

Most people with anorexia suffer a number of these health problems.

Treating Anorexic Men

Treatment for anorexic men is similar to treatment for women. It involves treatment for the medical problems the individual suffers (of which there are usually many) and psychological treatment. Successful treatment programs last for several months and usually involve inpatient hospital stays.

Fortunately, there are now some treatment programs geared specifically toward anorexic men. These programs are designed to deal specifically with the reasons why are men anorexic. However, many men do not get the treatment they need. Only about one in ten people who are anorexia seek treatment.

For more information about anorexia and why are men anorexic, please see our home page.


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