Hospitals hit by rise of the 'manorexic': Male eating disorder cases up 16% in a year
23:58 GMT, 10 April 2012
More and more men and boys are being taken to hospital needing urgent treatment for severe eating disorders, according to alarming figures.
The number of admissions for illnesses such as anorexia and bulimia – traditionally seen as affecting women and girls – has risen by 16 per cent in the last year.
Experts blame peer pressure to attain a muscular look as well as men trying to copy what they see as the ideal body image of male celebrities and models.
Bulimia can be even harder to detect than anorexia in boys. Experts say there is still a stigma around eating disorders that stops sufferers coming forward
But because sufferers of eating disorders are usually assumed to be female, many men may be simply too ashamed to admit they have a problem.
Figures from the NHS Information Centre show that last year there were 228 hospital admissions for men and boys with anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders.
This included 78 admissions for teenagers aged 14 or under and another 39 in the 15 to 18 age group.
The number of admissions for men of all ages has steadily risen from 160 in 2007/8 to 182 in 2008/9 to 196 in 2009/10.
But charities said these figures were the tip of the iceberg as they only show those patients who have become so severely ill, they need urgent hospital treatment.
It is estimated that a fifth of the 1.6million Britons suffering from some form of eating disorder are male.
Exercise and weight-watching can become an obsession without sufferers realising
Anorexia sufferers try to keep their weight as low as possible by restricting what they eat and exercising obsessively.
Those with bulimia binge on vast amounts of food before making themselves sick or using laxatives. They tend not to lose large amounts of weight so the illness is less obvious.
Mary George, spokesman for the Beat eating disorder charity, said: ‘We can’t say for sure that there are more men suffering from eating disorders now but there is certainly more awareness which means more are coming forward for treatment There is more pressure on men from magazines with celebrities and male models to have that ideal body image.
‘But there’s still a lot of stigma and misunderstanding because the majority of eating disorders occur in females.
‘That’s why men are ashamed to come forward and admit they have a problem.’
Bulimia survivor Sam Thomas told how school bullies triggered his illness when he was 13. He hid in the toilets and gorged on food before making himself sick.
Now 25, he said: ‘It was cathartic, like a therapy. It started because I was so anxious with the tormenting that I wanted to be sick so then I just made myself sick.’
However, he only realised he had bulimia after reading about it in an agony aunt column in one of his mother’s magazines.
Mr Thomas sought help from GPs but was never referred on for treatment and one even prescribed him Prozac.
He managed to shake off the illness after leaving school and escaping the bullying.
But the lack of support prompted him to set up the charity Men Get Eating Disorders Too, run from Hove, East Sussex.
Beat said former deputy prime minister John Prescott helped male sufferers when he spoke candidly in 2008 of his long battle with bulimia.
For more information about eating disorders visit the MGEDT website or the beat website