Symptoms of eating disorders present differently in males and females.
Research has identified that the combination of several factors are associated with male eating disorders, including biological, psychological, and environmental components.
Factors thought to contribute to the development of eating disorders in men consist of media idealization of highly chiseled, muscular men with extremely low body fat; certain sports, such as diving, gymnastics and wrestling; co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety or addiction; previous weight issues over the life of the male; abuse or trauma and sexual orientation issues.
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, it is estimated that males have a lifetime prevalence of .3% for anorexia nervosa, .5% for bulimia nervosa, and 2% for binge eating disorder. These numbers are likely a gross underestimate of the actual number of males that are facing eating disorders, as many are unable to speak openly about their struggles due to increased stigma.
Assessing Eating Disorders in Men
Interestingly, one measurement tool, the Eating Disorder Inventory – 3 (EDI-3), was evaluated by researchers for its effectiveness in assessing eating disorders in males and females. Researchers found that the scores on the EDI-3 reflected significantly lower body dissatisfaction, increased susceptibility for bulimia and a higher drive for thinness in males. This gave further evidence that a male-oriented assessment tool was needed to accurately measure eating disorder tendencies in males.
Unfortunately, most eating disorder measurements are based on females only. This has left a need for males to have their own test designed for their unique symptoms and issues related to disordered eating. Many treatment approaches utilized for eating disorders are predominantly focused on and/or used for females with eating disorders, thus potentially decreasing the effectiveness for males in recovery from eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, and/or binge eating disorder.
Eating Disorder Assessment For Men
The Eating Disorder Assessment for Men (EDAM) was the first measurement tool designed to evaluate eating disorders in males. It was developed in 2012. The EDAM measures male issues such as body image, disordered eating, motivation to be muscular and exercise habits.
Measurements such as the EDAM are positive signs that the eating disorder treatment community is aware of the needs of males suffering from eating disorders. Accurate assessment is a valuable step toward defining appropriate treatment for each individual who struggles with anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder.
With early identification and diagnosis, men with eating disorders can have improved prognosis for recovery and healing as they seek out appropriate treatment for these mental illnesses. This should include a gender-sensitive approach that recognizes the different and unique needs males have in eating disorder recovery.
About the Author: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC is a Contributing Writer for Eating Disorder Hope.
Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing. As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH and nutrition private practice.
References:: National Eating Disorder Association, “Research on Males and Eating Disorders”, https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/research-males-and-eating-disorders
: A clinical comparison of men and women on the eating disorder inventory-3 (EDI-3) and the eating disorder assessment for men (EDAM). Stanford SC, Lemberg R. Eat Disord. 2012 Oct;20(5):379-94. doi: 10.1080/10640266.2012.715516.
: Measuring eating disorders in men: development of the eating disorder assessment for men (EDAM). Stanford SC, Lemberg R. Eat Disord. 2012 Oct;20(5):427-36. doi: 10.1080/10640266.2012.715522.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published: June 8, 2017
Edited And Updated By: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 8, 2017
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com