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More Males — Young & Old — Falling Victim To Eating Disorders

Today's episode of Dr. Phil focused on "Body Obsessed Boys," and one 15-year-old, eating-disordered teen male in particular.

Eric became obsessed with his calorie intake, not because of his fear of weight gain, but because he is obsessed with his body fat percentage. He wants to have a completely chiseled appearance, and is putting his family through hell in the process. What's interesting about how his disorder differs from our ideas of female anorexia is that some women tend to hide their lack of food consumption from their family, so as not to make anyone suspicious. Eric, on the other hand, involves his entire family in his strict diet, orders them to use separate silverware, hijacks portions of the fridge so that his food does not touch fattier foods, and forces his mother to cook according to his rules.


In related news, Reuters is reporting that more and more physically-active men are falling victim to disordered eating behaviors due to ideas that their athletic performance can be increased as their percentage of body fat decreases. ""Often he'll notice that he's getting faster and that his placement when he competes is getting higher and better," Dr. James L. Glazer tells the news agency. "That will change what is a good and a healthy dieting pattern into one that becomes a little problematic and dangerous."

Related: Eating Disorders May Be Rising Among Male Athletes [Reuters]

Earlier: Boy Anorexic Sheds Light On Girl Anorexics
Indie Rock Boys Have Weight Issues Too
And Then There Was Nothing: The Incredible Shrinking Male Model


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Hortense Smith

Yikes. I'm a bit disappointed in the lack of empathy running through this thread, and I suspect the comments would be quite different if the subject at hand were female.

There is no such thing as "male anorexia" or "female anorexia"- mental illness does not separate itself into genders. This young man is very ill, and is not in his right mind. You would not believe what an awful bitch I was to my poor parents who were trying to help me when I was in the worst parts of my anorexia. You aren't there, mentally- the boy you are watching is not Eric, but Eric's illness, personified. The cruelty, lack of compassion, and insane behaviors that come with the disease are a result of malnutrition, a terrifying need for control, and an obsession that overtakes every part of your life.

I think people should step back and consider how awful the illness is, and what it is doing to this young man, before making comments like, "Shut up and eat" or "what a brat." It's not that simple.

Also, the more we mock young men with eating disorders, the less likely they are to recognize that they are legitimately ill and need treatment. The idea that anorexia is a "female disease" is perpetuated by the fact that only women are pushed to seek treatment. It's very sad.