Why Do So Many Men Have Eating Disorders?


Why Do So Many Men Have Eating Disorders?

Cultural expectations about manhood are fueling a silent epidemic of eating disorders and body image disturbance in men across the country.

Unlike Marvin, you probably don’t have a mental disorder, much less a substance abuse problem that you developed to cope with it. Muscle dysmorphia, or MD, is a little-known psychological condition first described in scientific literature in the late 1990s. Because formal diagnostic criteria define MD as a subset of a broader group, body dysmorphic disorder, it’s impossible to know how many people are affected.

Early research in the American Journal of Psychiatry reveals that a typical bodybuilder spends about 40 minutes a day thinking about improving his physique. Those with muscle dysmorphia spend about 325 minutes and check themselves out in a mirror an average of 9.2 times a day. The condition usually takes root in late adolescence or early adulthood, and most guys who exhibit hallmarks of MD have been bullied or shamed about their strength or appearance

Eating disorders are another hallmark of muscle dysmorphia. Bulking up requires a high-calorie diet, but even with anabolic steroids, it’s extremely difficult for an experienced, genetically maxed-out lifter to do a “clean” bulk — a term for building muscle without also adding fat. The quest to get bigger while staying shredded leads to bizarre diet choices, with grossly inadequate levels of vitamins and minerals.

Eating disorders affect men of all ages, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. It’s estimated that 10 million men in the United States will be affected at some point in their life by eating disorders, which have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder.



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