Eating disorders don’t only affect girls; Issue prevalent in boys but lacks awareness it deserves

Caroline Barquin, Reporter

   Why has the media stigmatized the prevalence of eating disorders in girls but has completely left out that a large portion of boys that struggle with this mental health issue as well?

     There are multiple different types of eating disorders, the common are Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa, Binge eating disorder, Pica, Rumination disorder, and Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. All these affect girls and boys but can be caused by different reasons and be presented in different ways.

     A quarter to a third of those struggling with eating disorders are male. Unfortunately, many of those men do not get the help they deserve because of stigma from the media. It is a huge issue for men who may not want to be associated with a problem that primarily affects women, according to the Child Mind Institute.

     Boys are typically undiagnosed and untreated; they are more likely to gain these disorders at an earlier age than females. A huge cause of an eating disorder in males are sports, especially wrestling where weight is a constant factor. Coaches who put an emphasis on body weight, body shape, and the pressure to win can cause extreme stress. Which potentially could lead to an eating disorder to combat these issues, according to Capital Area Pediatrics.

     In a research article about the impact of the media on eating disorders in children and adolescents there were limited mentions of boys compared to girls who struggle with these issues. Repetitively in this published research article there was the mention of “girls,” “females,” “young girls,” and  “women.” Where is the information regarding the impact of media on the male children and adolescents?

     In a separate research article by Kristine Wright, it was found that although social media is not the cause of these eating disorders in males it does play a part in creating these body image issues. Through unrealistic images and content on these platforms the kids are creating unrealistic body image standards. In order to appease these standards, they are using hazardous methods to their well-being According to Center for Change.

     Most eating disorder treatment centers are targeted for young girls leaving boys who are struggling with limited resources. Parents and doctors are less likely to notice these in young boys because the differing signs of them in males compared to female signs. “Boys don’t always lose a lot of weight, they just become focused on getting lean and increasing muscle tone. And that’s not necessarily perceived in our culture as a troubling sign.” Explained Healthline.

     For these boys to get the help they need, eating disorders in the media need to be destigmatized. Greater information needs to be distributed to parents in school and in doctors’ offices. On the main signs of eating disorders in girls and boys. If not, there are health consequences like damage to muscles, joints, and tendons from over-exercising, according to the Child Mind Institute.