Eating disorders on the increase for men and boys (UK)

June 13, 2012
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The number of boys and men seeking help for eating disorders is on the increase according to statistics from South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG). 

Last year 9 per cent of our eating disorder patients at the SWLSTG specialist Eating Disorder Unit were male, which is a significant increase from 3 per cent in 2010/11.

This is reflected on a national scale with the latest NHS statistic¹ showing an increase of over 16 per cent in the last year in the hospital admissions for males with eating disorders – over half of which were under 18 years old.

Pippa Hugo (pictured right), Eating Disorders Consultant at SWLSTG and Vice Chair of Eating Disorders Section, Royal College of Psychiatrists said

“It is much more common to hear of a young female suffering with eating disorders but we are increasingly seeing more boys and men with eating disorders. It is important for anyone with eating disorders to remember that they are not alone. Help is available and recovery is possible with specialist treatment – whether you are young or old, male or female .”

SWLSTG’s Eating Disorders Services has a national and well established reputation for providing a range of innovative and high quality care for male and female patients, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

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Sam Thomas (pictured left), Founder and Director of the charity Men Get Eating Disorders Too said

“As the leading organisation on this issue we are not surprised there has been a rise in the number of hospital admissions in males. The reason for this could be more males are coming forward or there is a genuine increase in the numbers affected.

In the past decade it is arguable that males may feel more pressure due to a growing trend focusing on the ‘ideal body image’. Whilst negative body imagine alone is not responsible for causing eating disorders, it magnifies insecurities and reinforces low feeling of self worth. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health condition so it’s vital that sufferers seek treatment early on in their illness”

Serious eating disorders are associated with a number of mental health issues including stress, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and personality disorders. They are not gender specific and in the worst cases can lead to organ failure and even death.

Pippa Hugo from SWLSTG concluded

“We know men can feel embarrassed about asking for support for an eating disorder as it is something that is usually associated with women and girls. This Men’s Health Week, we want to raise awareness amongst everyone that men can suffer from eating disorders too, and appeal to men out there that they should not be afraid to ask for the help and support that is available to them.”

If you are male and think you might need help dealing with an eating disorder don’t suffer in silence, the Men Get Eating Disorders Too website has a whole range of resources and organisations that can help. Alternatively make an appointment to see your GP who can talk you through the options or refer you to somewhere like the SWLSTG Eating Disorder Service.

¹ Hospital Episode Statistics, 1.The NHS Information Centre http://www.hesonline.nhs.uk/Ease/servlet/ContentServer?siteID=1937&categoryID=1652

Source: Eating disorders on the increase for men and boys (http://www.swlstg-tr.nhs.uk/news-and-media/news/eating-disorders-on-the-increase-for-men-and-boys/)

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