Medical student who developed 'boy anorexia' nearly died after his weight plummeted to 4st. Now he's a YouTube sensation giving advice to other sufferers
23:47 GMT, 19 January 2013
12:01 GMT, 20 January 2013
In his room at King's College, Cambridge, medical student Simon Metin gazed into his video camera and haltingly began to tell how he overcame teenage anorexia.
Five years earlier, Simon weighed just 4st and had been given a month to live. But within minutes of being posted on YouTube, his video had been viewed 1,000 times.
Since then, Simon, 20, has made a series of video 'blogs' to help other sufferers of male anorexia – recordings that have made him the most unlikely of YouTube sensations.
Simon Metin, who suffered from anorexia, at Kings College Cambridge
'My inbox is full of emails from young men fighting battles with food,' he says. 'Anorexia is still thought of as a young woman's disease. But now, with so much emphasis on diet, fitness and six-packs, it's increasingly affecting young men.'
Simon's story was first highlighted in a 2007 BBC documentary, I'm A Boy Anorexic. The film followed Simon at London eating disorders clinic Rhodes Farm as he struggled to overcome his obsessive relationship with food. He was 14 and so ill that he had had to leave his private school and his family home in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire.
'I was just starting my GCSEs, so it seemed disastrous,' he says. 'But going to Rhodes Farm shaped my life. The work the doctors did there inspired me to study medicine.'
Now fully recovered – at 5ft 10in he weighs a healthy 10st 3lb – Simon says he was just 13 when his obsession began. Until then, Simon had enjoyed a typical middle-class upbringing. His mother Fay, 47, is a nurse and his Turkish-born father Yuksel, 51, a businessman.
'I was never a fat child. But with things going on in my life that I couldn't do anything about, like bullying at school, I realised the one thing I could control was what I ate.
'I became obsessed with not being able to pinch any fat. I'd never heard of anorexia and didn't even register I was getting thinner. When I looked in the mirror, I saw someone who was getting bigger, not smaller.'
'I'm a boy anorexic': Showing Simon Metin when he was suffering from the eating disorder
Within six months, Simon became anorexic. 'At school I'd throw my lunch in the bin and tell my mother I'd eaten at a friend's house and didn't need any tea.' A diagnosis was made only after a friend's mother suggested to Simon's father that Simon might have a disorder.
'My parents begged, cajoled, pleaded and shouted at me to eat,' he says. 'But by now I'd memorised the calorie count of every food and allowed myself 200 calories a day.'
In March 2007, Simon weighed just 4st and was gravely ill when referred to Rhodes Farm. 'I remember the doctors saying if I didn't eat, I would be dead within a month,' he says. He remained there for nine months.
It was two years before Simon was fully discharged. At 16 he still heard the 'anorexic voice' inside him, but he credits going up to Cambridge for providing his final cure.
'Cambridge gave me a completely fresh start. I've stopped counting calories and these days hardly ever even weigh myself,' he says.
'While people are aware of anorexia in women, with men it seems to be taboo. I can only hope telling my story can help change that.'
VIDEO Simon gives poignant tips to people battling anorexia
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