Eating Disorders & Teen Boys – What You Need to Know as a Parent

eat disorder

It is a common misconception that females are the only ones who really ever have issues with eating disorders, and this is a dangerous thing to believe if you are the parent of a teenage boy. The truth is, males make up for one in three people who have an eating disorder, according to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). Some eating disorders, such as binge eating disorder and laxative abuse, are just as common in boys as they are in girls, which means eating disorder treatment centers oftentimes have just as many males as females.  

Males Can Struggle with Body Image Just Like Females

One of the most common underlying factors with just about all eating disorders is problems with personal body image. Even though it is commonly assumed that poor body image is more likely to affect females, males can have just as many problems with body image that are discovered through eating disorder treatment. Many boys and men prefer to be lean and muscular because this is what the media portrays a good-looking male to be. According to NEDA:

“25% of normal weight males perceive themselves to be underweight and 90% of teenage boys exercised with the goal of bulking up.”

Unfortunately, working to achieve this kind of physique can become an obsessive thing for some boys, which can lead to behaviors that are not good for their bodies and can also lead to a need for eating disorder recovery. More males who are gay or bisexual have eating disorders than females who are gay or bisexual, but there are actually more heterosexual men with eating disorders.

Males With an Eating Disorder Have a Higher Mortality Rate

One of the scariest things about eating disorders in males is the fact that there are some studies that propose that males have a higher mortality rate than women when they have an eating disorder. This is something that more eating disorder facilities have taken into consideration in the past several years because one of the reasons behind this information could be because males are less likely to seek treatment.

If you have a teenage boy who you suspect is struggling with their body image or has an eating disorder, as a parent it is critical that you understand the signs and seek help from an eating disorder treatment center as soon as possible. You can now find more programs available at top-notch eating disorder day treatment facilities that are geared specifically toward males.

Males with Eating Disorders Can Be Prone to Comorbid Conditions

Those who do enter eating disorder treatment centers often are diagnosed with comorbid conditions, which are other conditions that exist beyond the eating disorder itself. Men with eating disorders that are in eating disorder facilities are often found to have comorbid psychological conditions such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Substance use or abuse problems

In addition, men may also show addictive tendencies or have OCD that is relative to excessive exercise. If your teenage son has had issues with any of these psychological conditions, there may be a higher likelihood of them having an eating disorder or a need for eating disorder recovery.

Overall, it is important to understand that your teenage boy is not isolated from risks of developing an eating disorder sheerly because of their gender. At Oliver-Pyatt Centers, we focus on making sure our eating disorder facilities can help males and females through to a better life in spite of their disorder. Reach out to us today to find out which of our eating disorder treatment centers that may be best for your son.

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