Around the time Jeremy began to question his sexual identity, he also began to focus intensively on cross-country running. Within a year, he had developed a severe case of anorexia nervosa. Jeremy’s obsession with counting calories and exercise not only distracted him from increasing panic about his sexual identity, starvation muted his developing sex drive.
As Jeremy's struggle with anorexia nervosa illustrates, males with eating disorders may not need re-education about the levels of body fat that are reasonable and appropriate. On the contrary, it may be that their perceptions of their bodies require revision.
When the lay public and health professionals think of osteoporosis, they think of post-menopausal women. However, there is increasing recognition that osteoporosis frequently occurs as a result of the malnutrition associated with anorexia nervosa. And because osteoporosis is associated with women, it is often forgotten in males with the disorder.
In girls who have reached puberty, one criterion for the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa is amenorrhea, or the absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles. However, there is no equivalent diagnostic criterion for men and boys. Without this, clinicians may be less likely to consider the disorder in males.
Misconception and misunderstanding abound about anorexia nervosa. One of these is that anorexia happens almost exclusively to women and girls. Another is that families, and mothers in particular, are primarily responsible for their children developing the disorder. In fact, the situation is far more complicated.
When you think of anorexia nervosa, what comes to mind? If you’re like most people, you probably think of a teenage girl, obsessed with counting calories, struggling with perfectionism and dangerously thin from an often deadly psychological disorder. In fact, as many as 25% of patients with anorexia are male!