Young heterosexual men are falling prey to
eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia just as much as women
and gay men – and their numbers are increasing, a leading
specialist has warned.
Dr John Morgan, a consultant psychiatrist and
director of the Yorkshire Centre for Eating Disorders in Leeds,
told the Annual Meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in
Liverpool that growing numbers of young men are increasingly
dissatisfied with their bodies. In addition, the gap in the numbers
of gay and straight men with eating disorders is closing.
Dr Morgan told Annual Meeting delegates that
- less likely to recognise their eating
- more likely to be mis-diagnosed with
other mental health problems such as depression and
- less likely to be given treatment
- less likely to be referred to a special
eating disorder clinic.
Many men struggle to be referred to a
specialist eating disorders clinic in the first instance.
Furthermore, once they undergo treatment, many report being
stigmatised as the only man in the clinic.
He said: “By the time they go for treatment,
the disorder is much further down the line. Sometimes when men
overcome their reluctance, their GP is likely to say that men don’t
get eating disorders. So it’s not just their reluctance – it’s the
system putting up barriers.”
Images of skeletal models or men with
‘six-packs’, plus a plethora of choices now open to men, is at the
root of body dissatisfaction, Dr Morgan said.
“To be a young man is our society is a
difficult thing. What you do and who you are is less
straightforward. Women were challenged decades ago to consider
which of the many different social roles they adopted. Now men are
having to respond to the choices that society gives them.
“Suddenly younger straight men have similar
pressures to gay men and women. There is a crisis of masculinity in
our society. They are given all these roles and to simply decide to
manipulate your body is a nice easy solution to all the
complexities of life.”
Dr Morgan’s research, drawn from a range of
studies, has been accepted by the European Eating Disorders
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Annual Meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, BT Convention Centre, Liverpool, 2 -5 June 2009