Previously on Scope, we've discussed how eating disorders, such as anorexia and binge eating, are increasingly being recognized in men. But why? As a story in today's San Francisco Chronicle explains, this increase is probably due to a combination of factors.
The story tells how two men grapple with anorexia and highlights two Stanford researchers who study eating disorders in men and women. Though their collective experiences, we learn how the notion that eating disorders are a "female problem" could predispose family members, medical professionals, and even people with eating disorders to overlook the disease in men. From the piece:
"Even males with eating disorders think of anorexia as a female problem in which the main goal is to be thinner," said Alison Darcy, a psychiatry research associate at Stanford who has been among those leading a charge to gain greater recognition for male disorders.
Darcy recently led a study of adolescent boys with eating disorders at Stanford's Eating Disorder Program. As the article explains, Darcy found that many young boys with eating disorders want a lean and muscular physique, rather than just weight loss.
One important aspect of Darcy's study is simply that it focuses on eating disorders in young boys. Research on eating disorders tends to be "gender-biased, with many studies still focusing exclusively on women and girls," according to the piece.
"If we continue to act as though eating disorders do not occur in men, we are missing a vast population of need," Athena Robinson, PhD, a Stanford psychologist, commented.
Previously: KQED health program examines causes and effects of disordered eating, What a teenager wishes her parents knew about eating disorders and Stanford’s eating disorder program owes its success to holistic treatment