Anorexia not just a girls’ problem, now men are falling prey

August 3rd, 2008 - 4:21 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 3 (IANS) Anorexia or eating disorder usually associated with teenage girls is increasingly spreading in epidemic proportion among men seeking to build “an ideal body”. According to a new survey in Britain, the number of men being treated for this lifestyle disease has gone up by 67 percent in the past five years, the Daily Mail has reported.

Though official figures show that only 32 percent, or 1,700 men have received treatment for anorexia in the past year, experts say the figure is just the tip of the iceberg, the newspaper said.

The number of children less than 14 years of age under treatment rose by 26 percent from 202 in 2001-02 to 255 during the past year, according to the figures released by the Department of Health.

Some areas are worse affected than others.

In Durham the number of anorexics being treated at hospitals has rocketed by 360 percent, in southeast London the figure has risen by 246 percent and in Yorkshire, by 139 percent.

Stressing that most of the cases go unreported, experts claim that male anorexia has become “an unrecognised spiralling epidemic as men as well as women are bombarded with images of the ideal body”.

“The rise in male anorexia actually masked a much bigger problem because men traditionally are less likely to seek help,” said Susan Ringwood, the chief executive of eating disorder charity Beat.

“There has been a rise in focus on the body aesthetic and that’s affecting men as well as girls,” she said, adding that there has undoubtedly been some influence from the rise in male magazines.

“Clinics are seeing many more men, as well as children as young as eight. We know children are more likely to develop an eating disorder during puberty, and puberty is starting on average five years earlier than it did 50 years ago.”

Consultant psychiatrist Frances Connan, lead clinician for the Vincent Square eating-disorder clinic - part of Central and Northwest London NHS Foundation Trust, said it was “doubly humiliating” for men to come forward because mental health and anorexia were seen as “girls’ problems’.

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