Experts Say Lack of Awareness Is Hurting Men With Eating Disorders

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When you imagine someone with an eating disorder, chances are you imagine a young woman. But, the truth is eating disorders affect people of all ages and genders. In fact, medical experts like Dr. Clare Taylor from the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) in the UK believe the focus on young girls with eating disorders may be preventing some from seeking treatment and achieving recovery.

In a statement to BBC Newsbeat, Dr. Taylor said eating disorders are still largely a “taboo subject” for men.

“For every 10 patients suffering with anorexia or bulimia, statistics suggest that only one will be male,” said Dr. Taylor. “But, this could be considerably higher as exact and current figures are lacking – and there may be more focus on identifying women with eating disorders than men.

Dr. Darren Cutinha from the Royal Free Hospital in London agrees that the focus on women may be preventing many men with eating disorders from being identified. Additionally, he says it is impacting those who are identified and receive treatment.

“It’s incredibly difficult having an eating disorder, but if you are a boy it can be doubly difficult,” says psychiatrist Dr. Darren Cutinha from the Royal Free Hospital in London.

“Boys require almost additional support to make sure they can recover.”

While there are many efforts under way to increase awareness about eating disorders in men, the staff at RCGP believe the most important step is to destigmatize the disorders.

“We need to make sure boys and girls are made aware of eating disorders from school, that schools and teachers can be aware of the warning signs. Equally, employers need to be aware,” said Dr. Taylor. “We are talking about young people with their whole lives ahead of them. As a society, we need to find and treat them as soon as we can.”

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