A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal says there's a lack of awareness of eating disorders in men.
The perception of eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, is that they are "female diseases," even though research suggests men account for about 25% of cases, the study says. The lack of awareness is one reason men may not seek treatment.
"Parents don't think about this for skinny teenage boys. Boys grow tall quickly and are expected to be skinny for a while," said Dr. Blake Woodside, medical director of the eating disorders program at Toronto General Hospital and a psychiatry professor at the University of Toronto.
Woodside's research indicates men and women who seek treatment for eating disorders are similar in clinical presentation, although men are more likely to have other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
The CMAJ article discusses similar causes for eating disorders in men and women, including body image issues, with the diet and fitness trends increasingly targeting men.
David Brennan, assistant professor in the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto, says eating disorders are a bigger problem for homosexual men.
"There is a strong focus in the culture on the body and body image," Brennan said. "It is heavily influenced by media, by imagery in gay clubs, gay bars and pornography."
To increase awareness about eating disorders in men, the Toronto-based National Eating Disorder Information Centre has launched a new poster campaign featuring a variety of men.