Anorexia affects men, too

Jun 09, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- While eating disorders are unusual among men, the consequences can be just as devastating as for women says Dr. Jean Wilkins, a professor at the University of Montreal Faculty of Medicine and pediatrician at Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center.

“In both sexes, anorexic behavior emerges when a vulnerable individual experiences the unique sensation of food deprivation,” says Dr. Wilkins. “We can also draw parallels with , which begins when a fragile individual first consumes a toxic product. That is why we must view eating disorders as addictions. Food deprivation is an intoxicating and legal drug.”

“It's only in the early 1980s that young girls began showing up to our clinic with eating disorders,” says Dr. Wilkins who has seen many patients come through his office during his 30-year career. “Traditionally, we treated from wealthy families who were model students and tried to satisfy the expectations of everyone around them. Today, the disease afflicts boys and girls from all walks of life.”

Some clinicians believe that homosexuality could predispose teenagers to . Statistics vary, yet homosexual boys are reportedly more susceptible to strive for male model looks. “Often parents worry about the sexual orientation of their anorexic son because he doesn't seem interested in girls,” says Dr. Wilkins. “This is normal because anorexia causes a decrease in libido. These teenagers aren't necessarily homosexual. With time, it falls into place and they reconnect with their original .”

According to Dr. Wilkins, food deprivation is symptomatic of a larger problem in teen development. An absent parental figure, hypersensitivity, a recent or are often associated with the affliction.

“It's a complex disease that is difficult to treat,” says Dr. Wilkins. “Teenagers typically deny there is a problem. Anorexia is a refuge where they can hide and fill some emotional void. The control they have on their hunger and their weight is perceived as a personal victory over their entourage. It's a way to assert oneself and adopt a necessary but temporary identity.”

A new trend in anorexia, Dr. Wilkins warns, is how the growth-stunting condition is being diagnosed amid increasingly young children. “Before puberty, bones harden, the heart becomes stronger and the brain expands to prepare the body for the upcoming growth spurt that will occur during adolescence,” he says. “In anorexics, this entire process is slowed and the disease poses risks for the development and health of its victims. The younger kids develop anorexia the higher the risk that it will affect them for many years.”

Explore further: Streets bustling after Sierra Leone shutdown ends

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study reveals the heavy toll anorexia takes on families

Apr 08, 2008

While the primary focus of media attention and medical treatment is the individual's battle with anorexia nervosa, research from University of Western Sydney reveals that anorexia can have a long term impact on the physical, ...

Marking anorexia with a brain protein

Jun 23, 2009

Eating disorders are frequently seen as psychological or societal diseases, but do they have an underlying biological cause? A new study shows that the levels of a brain protein differ between healthy and anorexic women.

Why anorexic patients cling to their eating disorder

Aug 03, 2009

Anorexic patients drastically reduce food intake and are often not capable of changing their behavior. This can lead to life-threatening weight loss. Using MRI technology, scientists at Heidelberg University Hospital have ...

Families do not cause anorexia nervosa

Jan 22, 2007

Misstatements and ignorance claiming that families "cause" eating disorders is like blaming parents for diabetes or asthma or cancer says an international group of eating disorders researchers.

Recommended for you

Streets bustling after Sierra Leone shutdown ends

57 minutes ago

Streets in Sierra Leone's capital bustled again Monday after an unprecedented nationwide shutdown during which officials said more than 1 million households were checked for Ebola patients and given information ...

Spain: Ebola test drug out of supply worldwide

2 hours ago

Doctors treating a Spanish priest who was repatriated from West Africa on Monday after being diagnosed with the Ebola virus said there were no samples of experimental drug ZMapp available in the world right ...

A multiscale approach to Ebola response

4 hours ago

The Ebola outbreak in western Africa continues to spread uncontrolled, affecting thus far five countries. On September 16th, President Obama spoke at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters ...

Overwhelmed west Africa ramps up Ebola response

19 hours ago

West Africa intensified its response to the deadly Ebola epidemic on Sunday, with Sierra Leone uncovering scores of dead bodies during a 72-hour shutdown and Liberia announcing hundreds of new hospital beds.

User comments : 0