Alarming Rise in Eating Disorders among Men; HEALTH: Male Population Increasingly Suffering from Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 4, 2002 | Go to article overview

Alarming Rise in Eating Disorders among Men; HEALTH: Male Population Increasingly Suffering from Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia


Byline: ROBIN TURNER

AN alarming rise in eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia has been reported in Welsh men.

Campaigners for better treatment for Wales's estimated 32,000 men and women suffering serious eating problems have dismissed services here as "woefully inadequate", even though bulimia and anorexia patients have higher death rates than schizophrenics.

The counselling and campaign organisation Eating Disorders Wales says there has been a huge rise in men coming to them for help. Psychotherapists have also reported a big increase in male patients.

Boys and young men in particular are said to be struggling to keep up with the slim, trim army of boy bands and solo singers.

And older men are said to be coming under pressure from the "six pack"-shape and image portrayed by many film and TV stars, even though a lot of top male stars employ body doubles to make them look better.

TV programmes and slimming competitions have also encouraged men to lose weight.

Psychotherapist Martyn Shrewsbury of Swansea, said yesterday, "In the past three to four years in particular my counselling rooms have been filling with men suffering anorexia, bulimia or other problems associated with fear of eating too much.

"The image of slim young pop stars or footballers being successful and driving around in flashy cars gives the impression that if everything is OK on the outside it will be OK on the inside too.

"Unfortunately there is more to it than that, such as personality and the ability to relax. Happiness does not come from the outside.

"A lot of men asking for help are terrified of not looking like the successful people they see on TV and this leads to real nutrition problems and can lead to real phobia of food."

Ann Carol, spokeswoman for Eating Disorders Wales, said, "We have seen our counselling sessions filled up with more and more men in recent years.

"This issue is still predominantly a female one but there are more and more men suffering problems, often as a result of the six-pack culture, which makes them feel inadequate if they are anything less than the perfect weight for their height."

The Eating Disorders Association says as well as pressure from the media, a specific trigger for eating problems in males is often bullying, or even gentle teasing in the playground about their size, bodybuilding and exercise getting out of hand and over-attention to occupations such as athletics, dancing and horse riding. …

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