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Uncovering the Truth: The Impact of Eating Disorders on Men

A common misperception is that males do not struggle with eating disorders. However, this is far from the truth and approximately 1 of 3 individuals with an eating disorder are male (NEDA, nd). According to Global News (2023) a study conducted by researchers at Sick Kids in Toronto, found that between the years of 2002 and 2019 a 416% increase occurred in male eating disorder hospitalizations. This shocking rise indicates the severe impact that eating disorders can have on males. 


There are many factors in today’s society that perpetuate body ideals among males which may impact their self-view and contribute to disordered eating. Men are often expected to look a certain way, as NEDIC (nd) states, “few body types are seen as desirable for boys and men - generally either large and muscular or slim yet toned.” These unreal expectations may influence some men to have restricted diets, use steroids, and exercise excessively (NEDA, nd; NEDIC, nd). In today’s society, social media plays a significant role in showing individuals idealized body types which they may strive to achieve. This can become extremely harmful when the bodies shown on social media are unattainable and contribute to body dissatisfaction among men (NEDA, nd). 


Some men may suffer from muscle dysmorphia, which occurs when one is extremely preoccupied with their physical appearance to the point of it interfering with their daily lives. Unfortunately, this is becoming more frequent among male bodybuilders specifically. When individuals are preoccupied with their physical appearance and gaining muscle it can interfere with their eating habits and influence the use of steroids (NEDA, nd). 


Body expectations in men are not often talked about and men suffering from eating disorders may feel shame when talking about their experiences. This cycle is amplified due to ideas within society that men are not able to talk about their feelings and emotions freely (NEDIC, nd). 


It is important to understand that while eating disorders have been seen as a woman’s disorder in the past, this is a harmful notion that excludes the many men who suffer from eating disorders. There is currently a lack of eating disorder services catering to men. Many eating disorder programs are focused around women and in order to properly address the struggles of men it has been found that specialized programs focused on males have helped to enhance treatment outcomes (NEDA, nd). This is a necessary step as if we are better understanding how eating disorders affect men, we will be better able to help them. 


To learn more about the signs and symptoms of eating disorders and what to look out for read NEDIC’s article on eating disorders in boys and men at



Dangerfield (2023). Eating disorder hospitalizations for young men surged 416% in nearly 2 decades: report. Global News.


























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