Increase in reports of eating disorders among males

DCU students are being advised to seek help if they are suffering from an eating disorder after a report found the number of eating disorders reported among males in Ireland is increasing.

Bodywhys recently reported a 67 per cent increase in the number of males seeking help for eating disorders over the past five years, but many cases are still going unreported.

DCU Health Promotion Officer Triona Keane said it is important that if a student feels they may have an eating disorder, that they are aware they can receive help, both in DCU and outside of it.

“Students can drop in to the Health Centre, or if they prefer, get help and support from their own GP,” she said. “It is crucial that students seek treatment for eating disorders as early as possible before the disorder advances.”

Despite the rise in those seeking help, Bodywhys believes that popular misconceptions surrounding eating disorders may be discouraging male sufferers from coming forward, as eating disorders are commonly viewed as a “female issue” or a “teenage phase”.

“It may be that men and boys feel that their concerns will not be taken seriously by family and friends or they worry about approaching their doctor,” said Bodywhys representative Barry Murphy. “This, in part, may explain why the issue has been under-reported.”

While he acknowledges that males of all ages are susceptible to eating disorders, Murphy feels that young men are at a greater risk.

“Eating disorders are most likely to develop between the ages of 15 and 24. This is unsurprising as the body, and indeed the person, undergoes a lot of physical and psychological changes at this time,” he said.

Past statistics have suggested that one in ten sufferers of eating disorders are male, however, more recent statistics indicate that the figure could be closer to one in four. Bodywhys reported that in 2012, 22 per cent of people attending its support groups were men.

Keane believes it is important that awareness of the issue is raised among the student body.

“There is a 12-week poster campaign coming up next semester featuring information about eating disorders, as well as an annual health fair for students,” she said.

“I am also in the process of setting up a website on eating disorders and the support services available.”

John Casey

Image Credit: Flickr Via Creative Commons

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