Male anorexia on the rise

The Boyf and I are obsessed by our scales. I have blogged about this before: My Love/Hate relationship with the scales and I have been on both sides of this argument: that you should weigh every day in order to maintain optimal health and that weighing yourself daily can cause emotional distress, eating disorders and problematic thinking. What is the truth?

Men are worried about their weight

We are often used to women complaining about their weight but when a man starts to do it, it can emphasise that there has been a shift from ‘normal thinking’ to ‘disordered thinking’. As a society, we rely on men to be the benchmarks of health, fitness and wellbeing, we don’t think of them as worrying about their appearance, their age, their weight. Men have better things to concern their minds with, or so the stereotype goes.

The male stereotype is now shifting

There have been multiple reports online and in medical circles that male anorexia is on the rise. Male anorexia used to count for a very small percentage of cases, now it is up to about 20 – 25% in some countries.

More and more men are now falling into the ‘disordered eating’ trap.

Some reports are simply saying that previous cases were misreported, or “under-reported”.

Psychologist Deanne Jade (a female doctor), founder of the National Centre for Eating Disorders, says, “We don’t suddenly have an epidemic of boys with low self-worth – there were always boys with eating disorders, we simply did not recognise it. Even today I’m dealing with GPs who refuse to diagnose anorexia in boys – but if they are not treated they will end up extremely ill.”

Are men in crisis?

I do not think that the increase in the number of reported cases of male anorexia is due to under-reporting in the past. I believe this is further evidence of the shifting roles that men and women play and as further evidence to my (and others’) feelings that Men are Now in Crisis.

Men have been ignored. Men have been marginalised. Men have been trodden-upon and women have suffered as a result.

Now, we are seeing an increase of these first world problems previously associated with rich, younger women in developed countries. The truth is, although there are cases of anorexia throughout the world, it has always been associated with rich, prosperous communities. It has been associated with vanity. It has been linked to self-indulgence and higher incomes.

There has also been a jump in the number of older women and men getting eating disorders. Whereas it used to be linked to teens, mainly, there are now studies that show that mid-life eating disorders are becoming more common.

Does weighing yourself daily lead to eating disorders? I think that it certainly can. One of my fave bloggers, Angela Liddon, talks about this on her great vegan blog. Scroll down on the link to where she talks about her eating disorder. She threw away her scale and has lead a happier life ever since.

So are scales a good thing to have in your home? Should we weigh ourselves every day?

“It can be an effective tool,” said Jennifer Linde, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota. “It gives you feedback every day, and you can coach people to look at the number as a neutral thing. It doesn’t have to be a value judgment.”

Some studies have indicated that weighing yourself often is better for you – particularly if you are watching your weight.  A recent 6 month study of overweight and obese adults who were looking to lose weight, confirmed this.

Should you weigh every day?

“During the study, which included a mobile scale for daily weighing, a web-based weight loss graph and weekly feedback from researchers, participants who weighed themselves daily lost 5 kilograms on average. Those in the other group, who weighed themselves weekly, lost nothing.” (source)

Personally, I keep a very close eye on my weight and what goes into my mouth. Doing this has allowed me to eat whatever I want and never worry about gaining weight. I eat sugar, carbs, butter, salt, fat, fast food, ice cream…all in the correct portions, at the correct times, without feeling guilty.

Last night The Boyf made me a chicken schnitzel with ham, cheese and parmigiana sauce. We ate it with mashed potatoes and I thanked my lucky stars that I no longer fear food and the scales as I once did.

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