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Men's Health, Mental Health, Research

Shedding light on how binge eating affects men

Do men who binge eat experience less distress or impairment than women who do? According to a new study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, the answer is “no.”

In a workplace survey of more than 46,00o adults, Ruth Striegel, PhD, of Wesleyan University found that 7.5 percent of men (compared to 11.2 percent of women) experienced one or more binge-eating episodes during the previous month and that the negative effects associated with binge eating – including depression, distress and obesity – were experienced by males as well as females.  They also showed that binge eating hurt work productivity. “Our data suggest that binge eating in men is associated with significant functional impairment,” the researchers wrote.

Striegel and her colleagues also noted that few binge-eating studies have included men – and that men are especially underrepresented in treatment studies. They concluded that:

The underrepresentation of men in treatment-seeking samples does not appear to reflect lower levels of impairment in men versus women. Efforts are needed to raise awareness of the clinical significance of binge eating in men so that this group can receive appropriate screening and treatment services.

Researchers at Stanford are currently studying two types of therapies for binge eating disorder (.pdf) and are looking for both men and women to participate. More on the trial can be found here.

Previously: What a teenager wishers her parents knew about eating disordersStanford’s eating disorder program owes its success to holistic treatment and KQED health program examines causes and effects of disordered eating
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