Menstuff® is actively compiling information, books and resources on the issue of men and eating disorders. Eating disorders are very complex emotional issues. Though they may seem to be nothing but a dangerously obsessive dietary concern on the surface, for most men and women suffering with an eating disorder there are deeper emotional conflicts to be resolved
Websites can Perpetuate Eating
Experts Define Traits Driving Eating
Experts Urge Care Dealing With
Approaching Someone With An Eating
Eating Disorders Not Always Obvious
Kids and Teens With Anorexia Eat Fewer
Calories Before the Onset of Illness
Worsening Bulimia May Deplete Hormone That
Dopamine May Play Role In Cue-Induced
Craving Distinct From Its Role Regulating Reward Effects
Eating Disorders In Men
Obesity in Young Boys is on the Rise and So
Are Eating Disorders. Who's is at Fault? By Amy Dickinson
Now it's time to take a good look at our sons and their plastic influences. Studies show that boys increasingly suffer from eating disorders, and if that fact is surprising, the root cause is not--after you take a good look at G.I. Joe.
G.I. Joe, for those of you who haven't raised an eight-year-old boy lately, has evolved from a normally proportioned grunt into a buff, ripped, mega muscular warrior who, if he were a real man, would have 27-inch biceps and other proportions achievable only through years of bench presses, protein diets and the liberal use of steroids.
A recent study shows that 36% of third-grade boys had tried to lose weight. In the past 10 years, more than a million males have been found to have eating disorders. In addition to suffering from anorexia and bulimia at increasing rates, boys are falling victim to a newly named disorder: muscle dysmorphia (also called bigorexia)--the conviction that one is too small. This syndrome is marked by an obsession with the size and shape of your body, constant working out and weight lifting (even if you aren't involved in sports) and the use of supplements to "bulk up."
Parents might tell themselves their kids' spending hours in a gym working on "six-pack abs" is better than hanging out on the corner
and drinking six-packs, but a true case of bigorexia can be just as ruinous to a boy's health and future.
Dr. Harrison Pope, co-author of The Adonis Complex, a helpful book on male body obsession, says parents should look at the world through their sons' eyes. "Boys are fed a diet of 'ideal' male bodies, from Batman to the stars of the WWF," he says. "So parents need to tell their boys--starting when they are small--that they don't have to look like these characters."
Pope, himself an avid weight lifter, says parents should also educate themselves and their sons on the uses and dangers of supplements such as adrenal hormones. "Any kid can go into a store and buy 'andro' [formerly Mark McGwire's bulk-up drug, androstenedione] legally," he says, "but we still don't know what long-term use will do to a boy's health." Pope believes that up to 15% of high school boys use andro, often in dangerous megadoses. A large percentage will then move on to anabolic steroids.
Boys are hampered by their tendency to stay silent about their anxieties, but parents can help them open up by asking questions rather than making statements. The media are full of unattainable images, so an Abercrombie & Fitch or a Gap ad can spark a discussion about what the proper build for a boy is. Parents of kids involved in such weight-sensitive sports as wrestling should know that crash dieting can trigger health problems and eating disorders.
Danger signs include extreme mood changes, compulsive behavior and
depression. Parents of very young boys can take a page from the
Barbie playbook by asking their sons to compare muscle-bound action
figures with real people they know, like Mom and Dad. When we did
this in our house, it got a big laugh--maybe too big. But at least
it's a start.
Girls' diets affect puberty, later
Research has shown that girls who mature physically at a younger age may be at increased risk of breast and possibly ovarian cancer.
"The importance of the potential link between some of these adolescent factors and risk of adult diseases is that they may be modifiable...whereas other risk factors such as family history of a disease are not amenable to intervention," according to Dr. Catherine S. Berkey of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues.
The findings, published in the September issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, do not suggest that parents should modify their child's diet in order to lower the risk of disease, since young children need adequate protein and fat for normal growth and development, the authors note.
To investigate the link between diet, growth and maturity, investigators reviewed medical and dietary data on 67 white females born in the 1930s and 1940s.
Girls who consumed the most animal protein at 3 to 5 years of age had their first menstrual period (menarche) earlier than girls who consumed higher amounts of vegetable protein, the analysis reveals. Similarly, girls with higher dietary fat intakes at 1 to 2 years old and girls with higher animal protein intakes at 6 to 8 years old had earlier adolescent growth spurts.
"These findings may have implications regarding adult diseases whose risks are associated with adolescent growth and development factors," Berkey and colleagues write.
The authors note that earlier menarche is associated with increased risk of breast cancer, possibly due to greater exposure to the hormone estrogen over a lifetime. On the other hand, early menarche is also associated with a lower risk of the brittle bone disease osteoporosis and an increased bone mass.
"Current public health efforts designed to reduce intakes of saturated fat and red meat and excess calories and to increase fruit/vegetable intakes in children could potentially result in lower breast cancer rates, along with other health benefits; but the risk of osteoporosis, and perhaps of other diseases, might increase," the researchers conclude.
Severe dieting often precedes bulimia
This finding can help to identify people at risk of the eating disorder, in which people binge on large amounts of food and then purge the calories by vomiting, using laxatives, and performing extreme exercise.
"These results confirm that, in fact, most bulimics do begin their illness after the onset of severe dieting, in this case in an attempt to lose at least 15 pounds," according to Dr. Timothy D. Brewerton and colleagues from Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
The authors explain that a severe restriction of calories leads to strong feelings of hunger that can cause people to binge on huge quantities of food.
In a study of 85 bulimic women, 46% of the women attempted to lose at least 15 pounds before they had their first binge. On average, the first binge occurred nearly 4 years after the first serious attempt to lose weight, the researchers report in an upcoming issue of the International Journal of Eating Disorders.
About 37% of women binged before they attempted to lose weight, however. Among these women, the binge preceded a serious attempt at dieting by about 7 years. In 17% of patients, binge eating and dieting occurred simultaneously.
The investigators also found that depression and alcohol abuse was more likely to occur among women who dieted before their first binge and among those who binged and dieted simultaneously. These women were also more likely to have a higher average body mass index--a measurement of weight in relation to height.
"This suggests that serious dieting may have promoted both depression as well as alcohol abuse and a rebound increase in weight, possibly due to decreased metabolic rate and bingeing," Brewerton and colleagues report.
There were no differences among groups in the percentage of women who had been raped, molested, or sexually or physically assaulted; body weight; or in use of diuretics or exercise to control weight.
It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. - M. F. K. Fisher