Saturday, October 12, 2013

Follow-Up: Eating Disorders in Boys

Last February, I wrote about the rise in eating disorders amongst boys, and how they can often go undiagnosed and untreated because they are most often associated with girls.

This past week, a story aired on NPR that shared the story of a boy struggling with bulimia.  Take a look at the video below:

The story goes on to highlight the differences in eating disorders between boys and girls:

  • Boys and men tend to be more focused on getting lean and muscular versus girls who are often focused on becoming "skinny"
  • Boys and men with eating disorders tend to have a history of being overweight versus girls who are typically thin to begin with
The similarities in both boys and girls are:

  • There can be a history of perfectionism, obsessive and compulsive behaviors, and or other mental health disorders such as depression
  • Very often there are some environmental stressors that trigger the eating disorder

Most treatment programs are geared towards women and girls, and so boys who enter them often feel isolated.  That is changing as more and more clinicians and medical professionals are recognizing that eating disorders are effecting boys and men in addition to girls and women.  It is important that as you share information and education about eating disorders with students and families that you make sure to include boys in your programming.  It is possible that large amounts of food being consumed by a teenage boy is simply indicative of a growth spurt, but if combined with some other risk factors, there may be some reason for concern.

For the full NPR story, click on this link.

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