Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Young men are the new faces of anorexia

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NBC News reports: Far from the world of beauty magazines, pin-thin celebrities and runway models, anorexia is striking what many consider to be an unlikely group: boys and young men.

“When the majority of people hear the word anorexia, they automatically assume it’s a girls' disease,” said Victor, who works in his family’s construction business and has since recovered. “The reality of anorexia is that it’s a psychological illness that does not discriminate,” he said.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, at least one million males in the United States are battling anorexia or bulimia. Yet due to the shame that often comes with male eating disorders, experts say the statistics are skewed, and many more young men are left unaccounted for.

“It appears that the prevalence of the disorder is increasing among boys,” said Dr. James Hudson, a Harvard psychiatry professor who has been treating and researching eating disorders for more than 26 years. “It may be that boys are simply more comfortable coming forward now than in the past.”

In 2007, he was the lead author of a large study on eating disorders in the United States, one of the first of its kind. The study found that one in four people suffering from anorexia or bulimia are male, contradicting prior estimates that only 10 percent of people with eating disorders were male.

The assumption that anorexia can only affect girls and women not only increases the stigma for young men fighting the disease, but it also means that they are often too ashamed to seek help. That leads many to become even sicker than their female counterparts.

Three gut-wrenching personal stories can be read here.

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