Eating Disorders in the Male Term Paper

Pages: 9 (3046 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality


[. . .] Why people choose a type of disorder is one of the areas that has not been studied, so more analysis into why people choose what they choose should be established, as well.

It is important to note that these eating disorders can lead to a host of other problems. Another writer says, "Eating disorders for gay men often are accompanied by depression, isolation, or substance abuse. The diseases do not go away on their own, and they tend to get worse the longer they last" (Nguyen, 2006, p. 24). Eating disorders result from poor body image and poor self-esteem, but there are usually other underlying issues, as there are with depression and substance abuse, that need to be dealt with.

Eating disorders can also lead to other health issues, as one gay man reports. He told an interviewer, "I realized I had an eating disorders after I chipped my tooth while binge-eating,' says Jamie Mattson, a 24-year-old gay Seattle man. "It was erosion of the enamel from throwing up two or three times a week for the past three years'" (Nguyen, 2006, p. 24). Erosion of the tooth enamel is only one health area that can be affected. Another man, who only ate carrots and cabbage for months, had skin that looked orange, and the lack of nutrients entering the body because of these disorders can lead to many other health concerns, from heart problems to liver and kidney issues. These disorders are dangerous health concerns, and many people seem to forget this.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Eating Disorders in the Male Assignment

There are many reasons why eating disorders are reported at a much higher rate in the gay community than in the heterosexual male community. First, most people think of eating disorders and "girl diseases." The media seems to focus on young, white girls who suffer from the disease. They get the most attention and even sympathy from the media, and they are representative of millions of young women across the country who struggle with body image and self-esteem issues. Studies show that straight men who suffer from eating disorders are often ashamed or embarrassed that they suffer from a "girl disease" and will not admit to suffering from an eating disorder. They think it weakens them or makes them less manly somehow. In addition, most treatment programs are geared toward young women, so it can be difficult for young men, either gay or straight, to find a program fit for them, even if they want to get treatment for their disorder. Another reason is that homosexuals are tied to eating disorders, and many straight men may not seek treatment because they might be perceived as gay. Finally, since most of the treatment facilities are geared to women, many men do not want to get treatment in a female-oriented facility, it would make them uncomfortable at best.

Straight men also do not worry so much about "thin" or "fat," as most women do. The issues that drive them, and even obsess them, are "strong" and "weak." Fat people are associated with being weak, so straight men develop eating disorders in an effort to become or appear stronger and more in control. Gay men often do not share those same issues. They are more concerned about their looks, because much of society already views them as weak individuals. However, there have been studies that indicate some heterosexual men are becoming less fearful of seeking treatment. Two authors state, "According to the authors there appears to be a high threshold for men to seek treatment 'for a typical women's disease' but this threshold may have come down over time because of heightened awareness in the public, media publications and higher levels of awareness by health care professionals" (Fichter & Krenn, 2003, p. 371). While that is encouraging, for many men, there is still a stigma attached to eating disorders that they do not want to encounter or acknowledge.

Homosexual men are more apt to seek treatment because they are used to being part of a community that is unaccepted by many, and so, they are not as susceptible to judgement and disdain. They do not fear admitting they have a "girl disease" because many of them have significant feminine traits, anyway. Many researchers believe there are many more men who suffer from eating disorders, but because they do not seek treatment, the numbers are skewed. For example, it is estimated that there are as many as 1 million men suffering from eating disorders in the nation, but there could be many more (Columbia University, 2007). Since more gay men seek treatment, there could be a huge number of men who suffer symptoms but never admit to them.

Another reason more gay men seek treatment could be that they are not as intimidated by treatment at centers that are largely geared to females. Many gay men enjoy good relationships with straight women, largely because they do not view the women as potential dates, and the women develop trust they may not be able to develop in straight men. Neither group intimidates the other, and so, gay men may feel more comfortable in traditional treatment centers, while straight men simply would not.

It is interesting to note that men do not gain the attention of the media if they have an eating disorder, whether they are gay or not, they also do not gain the attention of the medical community. Since women are so often portrayed as the victims of eating disorders, most medical personnel do not look for symptoms in men. Another gay man told reporter Nguyen that although his skin was orange from eating so many carrots, and he was greatly underweight, his visit to an emergency room did not result in any questions about his eating habits (Nguyen, 2006, p. 24). If medical personnel cannot recognize these conditions, many cases could be overlooked, and many men are more than happy to allow that to occur.

Because treatments are geared toward women, it is difficult to get affective treatments for men and gay men. Reporter Nguyen continues, "Unfortunately, many programs for people with eating disorders are geared toward women and teenage girls. […] There are serious consequences if these issues are not addressed" (Nguyen, 2006, p. 24). The health concerns have been noted in this paper, but the mental health concerns have not been addressed. Many of the gay men who suffer from eating disorders have other issues, such as depression, that must be treated, as well. Treatment centers that do not address the underlying issues of the disease will not be successful, and most centers attack the issues that affect young, teenaged girls, not gay men, so they will not be as successful in treating men.

A treatment center geared specifically to gay men would be much more affective and would probably be successful, too. Almost all successful treatments contain some form of psychological counseling, and often include family therapy, especially if the sufferer still lives at home. There are day treatment programs and inpatient treatment programs, and many different methods of treatment, often geared to specific individuals and their needs. There are different treatments for different conditions, such as anorexia and bulimia. Medications have been shown to help prevent relapse in some anorexia patients, while medications have not proved so helpful in bulimia cases. Anorexia in adults who have had the disease for a relatively long period is the most difficult to treat. A group of authors note, "In the poorer long-term prognosis (adult) group there is less certainty about the treatments that work. More care (either in terms of intensity or duration) may be most appropriate" (Treasure, Schmidt, & Furth, 2003, p. 212). This is not good news for the gay men that suffer from this disease, because they may find it difficult to find treatment that targets them and their needs, along with the difficulty of treatment in general.

In conclusion, gay men suffer from eating disorders for many of the same reasons women suffer from eating disorders. They have a poor body image and low self-esteem, they have other underlying problems, and they have difficulty find treatments that apply to their needs. Eating disorders are serious health problems, and they must be addressed. Treatment options for gay men should be created, because it is estimated that 10 to 15% of gay men suffer from these diseases, and it is difficult for them to find help and get successful treatment.


Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health (2007, April 14). Gay men have higher prevalence of eating disorders. Retrieved December 10, 2009, from the ScienceDaily Web site: / releases/2007/04/070413160923.htm.

Fichter, M., & Krenn, H. (2003). Chapter 23 Eating disorders in males. In Handbook of eating disorders, Treasure, J., Schmidt, U., & Furth, E.V. (Eds.) (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

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APA Style

Eating Disorders in the Male.  (2009, December 10).  Retrieved February 23, 2020, from

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"Eating Disorders in the Male."  10 December 2009.  Web.  23 February 2020. <>.

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"Eating Disorders in the Male."  December 10, 2009.  Accessed February 23, 2020.