Harvard Mental Health Letter

Questions & Answers: Is anorexia ever a problem for men?

Questions & Answers

Is anorexia ever a problem for men?

Q. Is anorexia ever a problem for men?

A. Anorexia nervosa — the name means "nervous lack of appetite" — is a disorder that involves intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted body image, leading to self-starvation and emaciation. About 90% of people with anorexia are female, so the disorder is often overlooked when it occurs in men and boys.

Researchers are only beginning to understand the imbalance between the sexes. One explanation they consider: Women are more likely to seek psychiatric care for the disorder and receive the diagnosis. But that is certainly not the whole story. In fact, some researchers think that men who develop this largely female disorder are more open to seeking treatment than most men.

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