The Other Kind of ED in Men

On Tuesday night’s episode of the Bachelorette, Ben talked about how he struggled with an eating disorder for over ten years (see this link from a segment on Good Morning America about it!). For many viewers, I’m sure they were surprised to hear this, as many people think of eating disorders as something that impact thin, white women (a future blog will cover how eating disorders impact women of color).

According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), one third of those struggling with an eating disorder identify as male, and nearly as many men struggle with disordered eating behaviors as women. Check out this graphic from NEDA:

While women face the unattainable standard for thinness, men also face idealized physiques, which plays a role in the development of their eating disorders. Also like women, men with eating disorders may be diagnosed with comorbid disorders, such as substance use, trauma, anxiety or depression.

Because of the stigma around eating disorders being seen as “feminine,” many men do not seek help or are underdiagnosed. According to NEDA, various studies suggest that the mortality risk of eating disorders within men is actually higher than that of women (which is saying something, as the mortality rate for females with eating disorders is higher than other disorders too). If they are able to find treatment, men are likely to respond to treatment similarly to women – meaning it can be effective for them too.