Media and research most often paints eating disorders as a thin-young-white woman’s problem. In such a climate, it will not come as a surprise that resources for – and even conversations surrounding – people of other gender identities experiencing eating disorders are few and far between.
The truth is that eating disorders are not one-size-fits-all when it comes to body size, age, race, gender, or anything else. Each person’s story is unique, and all people deserve healthy relationships with food, body, and self. To expand the discussion around recovery and healing beyond such a narrow demographic, we invited Aaron Flores, RDN and Chase Bannister MDIV, MSW, LCSW, CEDS to join us for an EDRDpro members-only webinar to discuss men and eating disorders.
Current estimations report lower incidence and prevalence of eating disorders among males compared to females: 25% to 40% of eating disorder patients are men. It’s important to keep in mind that widespread stigma around eating disorders and men contributes to underreporting and under-diagnosing in this population, so exact statistics remain unclear.
The data that we do have is alarming. From 1999 to 2009, for instance, there has been a 53% increase in hospitalizations involving eating disorders for male patients, and purging behaviors appear to be increasing at a faster rate among males compared to females. Eating disorders already have the second-highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, and studies suggest that men with eating disorders face an even higher mortality risk than females.
It’s also worth noting that eating disorders impact a higher proportion of men who are gay or bisexual. Recognizing risk factors such as this is a crucial part of the conversation. We desperately need more specialized attention on how we can better prevent, diagnose, and treat eating disorders for people who do not meet the media’s very limited representation of who suffers.
How can we best communicate and build rapport with male clients, creating spaces where vulnerable discussions and healing can take place? Tune into our Aaron and Chase’s webinar, “Demystifying the Treatment of Eating Disorders for Male Clients,” to take a deep dive into this topic! We also recommend Man Up to Eating Disorders by Andrew Walen. Purchase a copy of Walen’s book here, and visit EDRDpro’s members-only webinar library to learn from Aaron and Chase!