The Lost Boys

For reasons that escape me, at times a story will spread virally throughout the media for a day or two.

This affliction has not yet happened to the Maudsley approach, but my hope springs eternal that it may...

This week the story that I can't stop hearing is headlined "Binge Eating More Common than Other Eating Disorders" in various wordings here and here and here.

But the real story is buried: the number of men who have all eating disorders. We often hear that only 10% of sufferers are men. This Harvard study counts more like 1/3 of the total - that's news.

We tend to refer to boys and men as an afterthought when it comes to EDs. Many treatment centers don't even take you if you have a Y chromosome. As if it wasn't the same illness. As if male sufferers need another barrier to good care.

Eating disorders hurt all sufferers and their loved ones. Let's not mistake being a minority of sufferers for having less severe illness.

Women get MS more often than men, but that doesn't make it a female illness. Heart disease strikes men more often but it isn't a man's illness.

Tell Dennis Quaid anorexia is a girl thing. I dare you.


  1. Apparently Dennis Quaid himself felt anorexia is a girl thing as he reportedly labeled his eating disorder as "manorexia".

  2. Having a Y chromosome unfortunately does seem to make EDs more painfully isolating than they already obviously are. But as you point out with the manly Mr. Quaid, anorexia can indeed have many guises. As a lonely mom of a very young lost boy, what I really meant to say before was thank you.

  3. The Minnesota Starvation study was done They acted remarkably like all of the young *women* I've met with anorexia. Malnutrition is malnutrition. I think that if we can stop associating anorexia and bulimia with wanting to be "pretty" or "asexual" or whatever the current catchphrase is, we'd have an easier time of it.

    Eating disorders are a brain disease. Men do, in fact, have brains. So, remarkably, do women. Shocker, huh? Hormones are different, it's unlikely that the rate of illness would be the same in both genders, especially given environmental triggers, but the single greatest predictor of anorexia is a childhood anxiety disorder.

    And that was the long way around to a fairly short point. :)

  4. It is extremely frustrating to find help for my son. It is painful to watch him struggle to eat. He is at least trying to 'recover' or look like he is but he feels awkward and isolated on campus and is missing out on so much of the social scene because so much of it revolves around food. He's quite lonely as he doesn't want to be seen with his food choices because they are so different. There is a support group on campus but it is all women, he doesn't want more people to identify him as odd.

  5. MomK,

    Please don't despair. Recovery will bring him to more normal relations with peers. Recovery will help him be flexible in his eating and able to participate comfortably.

    And encourage him to participate with the support group anyway - if it is a positive environment. I believe the girls need to know this isn't a girl thing, and he deserves the peer support!


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