Shinning on a light on male eating disorders
Friday, September 15, 2017
From bigorexia to bingeing, more young males are experiencing eating disorders. But the stigma of having what is often seen as a woman’s illness is stopping many from seeking help, writes Sharon Ní Conchúir.
Eating disorders are still commonly seen as conditions that only affect females. However, the life experience of Zayn Malik, Russell Brand, John Prescott, Elton John, Billy Bob Thornton and Welsh rugby referee Nigel Owens prove that this is definitely not so.
Their stories show that men can restrict their calorie intake just as much as women. Zayn Malik recently revealed that he would often go for days without eating when he was in One Direction. It was only after he left the band and moved back in with his parents that he was able to begin addressing his problem.
In the late 1990s, Billy Bob Thornton lost 59lb and was diagnosed with anorexia. He has since recovered and regained the weight.
These men’s stories show that it’s not just women who binge eat either. Russell Brand, John Prescott, Elton John and Nigel Owens have all struggled with this.
Trish Shiel is the clinical manager of the Eating Disorder Centre in Cork, where they are increasingly seeing an increase in the number of men coming forward with eating disorders. “This may not be because more men are suffering from eating disorders,” she says. “It may be that they are now more prepared to admit to having a problem. When we started in 2008, very few men came forward. Now, it’s at least one in 10.”
While it certainly helps that more and more high-profile men are opening up about their mental health issues, Shiel thinks more needs to be done to encourage boys and men to come forward.