Eating disorders, which have mostly been described in women, happen to men, too. In fact, a Boston College study reveals that 10-15 percent of those who suffer from eating disorders are actually men. The US-based National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) reports that as many as 1 million men suffer from the eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia, and perhaps many more are binge eaters.
Despite the limited stats, epidemiologists and researchers have worked with whatever data they have at their disposal to put a face to male eating disorder sufferers and quantify the real problem that these disorders pose. A study conducted in 1995, for example, shows that significant numbers of young males exhibit weight control behaviors which eventually lead to full blown eating disorders. Of those belonging to this segment of the population, at most, 3 percent of males go on a diet more than 10 times a year to lose weight. On the other hand, 5-14 percent of these men force themselves to vomit after eating, while 12-21 percent had a history of binge eating.
In terms of specific eating disorders, the Boston College study breaks them down as follows:
● Binge eaters, or those who continually eat or gorge impulsively, top the list at 79-83 percent.
● Bulimics (those who binge-eat and then force the food out of their system by self-induced vomiting, using laxatives or those who exercise excessively or fast for extended periods of time), are a far second at 10-13 percent.
● Anorexics (those who starve themselves, have a distorted image of their bodies as being fat and those who are extremely underweight), though last on the list at 4-6 percent, still represent a big number of the male population (US) that needs to be addressed.