The number of young males dealing with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) has increased greatly in the decade or so I have been watching the statistics. I prefer to use the BDD terminology because not all of the young males suffering from this issue should be lumped into the category of anorexia nervosa (what the authors of the article are calling manorexia).
Some of these young men are healthy, but they become obsessed with looking like a male fitness model, such as those on the cover of Men's Health.
We are screwing up our boys now the ways we have been screwing up our girls for the past several decades.
A third of young men have suffered from 'manorexia' - either by purging or abusing drugs - because they hate their appearance
By Jenny Hope Medical Correspondent
- Eating disorders are a growing problem among teenage boys, say doctors
- May have a traditional eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia
- Or they may abuse drugs or muscle-building supplements
- One in every 10 cases of an eating disorder occurs in men, figures suggest
PUBLISHED: 6 November 2013
Almost one in three young men have gone to extremes, such as making themselves sick after eating, in an attempt to look good, researchers say.
New data suggests that eating disorders are a growing problem among teenage boys. Many are turning to drugs and muscle-building supplements.
The phenomenon is so widespread that the name ‘manorexia’ has been coined to describe it.
Almost one in three young men has gone to extremes - including making themselves sick after eating - to enhance their appearance - suggesting eating disorders are a growing problem among teenage boys
The study’s lead author, Alison Field of Boston Children’s Hospital, said: ‘We need to be thinking more broadly about eating disorders and considering males as well.’
Classical eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, in which a person refuses to eat, and bulimia nervosa, in which someone binges then purges through vomiting or laxative use.
Professor Field said: ‘For a lot of males, what they’re striving for is different from females.
‘They’re probably engaged in something different from purging.’
Classical eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, in which a person refuses to eat, and bulimia nervosa, in which someone binge-eats then purges through vomiting or laxative use
Men make up an estimated one in every ten eating disorder sufferers. In the UK, the highest rates of new cases are among girls aged 15 to 19 and boys aged ten to 14.
Bulimia and problems such as binge eating account for 38 per cent of new cases, official figures show.
Professor Field’s research on US teenagers found 31 per cent of males had binged on food or purged.
Her team spent three years surveying 5,527 boys who were aged 12 to 18 at the start of the study in 1999.
They were asked how they saw their bodies and about unhealthy behaviours such as drug and alcohol use.
Overall, young men were most likely to worry about being muscular, and that concern increased with age.
This could be the male equivalent of some girls’ preoccupation with extreme thinness, the study said.
About 9 per cent reported a high level of concern with muscularity, while 2 per cent had also used some type of supplement, growth hormone or anabolic steroid to look better.
That figure rose to 8 per cent for older teens aged 16 to 22, the research in journal JAMA Pediatrics found.
Professor Field said using such products was risky: ‘There are a whole range of products available online that we don’t know if they’re healthy or not. We know when a lot of them are tested, they’re not what they’re marketed to be.’
About nine per cent of teenage boys said they were concerned about their body's muscularity. Two per cent of these people had used some type of supplement, growth hormone derivative or anabolic steroid to enhance it
Young men who used enhancement products were more likely than their peers to binge drink and use drugs.
About 6 per cent of boys were very worried about both having muscle and being thin. Just over 2 per cent worried only about thinness, and this group were the most likely to develop symptoms of depression later on.
Professor Field said ‘airbrushed’ models with unrealistic bodies could have a bad effect on teens.
She said doctors and parents should be aware of attempts by young men to change their bodies, to make sure it is being done for the right reasons and in a healthy way.