Despite the number of men with eating disorders continuing to rise, men with eating disorders feel invisible and unable to seek professional help, according to research by the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM).

SLaM Clinical Psychologist Dr Victoria Mountford and her co-researchers at Canterbury Christ Church University, found that men with eating disorders felt alone and worried about the stigma surrounding male eating disorders.

It is now estimated that at least 10 per cent of binge eaters, anorexics and bulimia sufferers are male. Interestingly, rates of eating disorders among men are on the rise, whereas rates among women have remained largely the same over the last 10 years.

The stigma around males and body image means males find it even harder to acknowledge they have an eating disorder and seek help. Males showing signs of eating disorders are less likely to be recognised and diagnosed by professionals including GPs and psychiatrists.

To coincide with London Fashion Week, SLaM has contributed a piece on the rise of eating disorders among men to Nutrition Rocks, a lifestyle and celebrity website that aims to improve nutrition and body image among young people.

This London Fashion Week, media attention has zeroed-in on the so-called ‘size zero debate’. Models and eating disorders, and the unrealistic body image promoted by the fashion industry, is nothing new.

What is different is that the fashion industry’s obsession with body weight is no longer confined to women. Men, and in particular male models, are increasingly aspiring to unrealistic, unobtainable and unhealthy body shapes.

The article cites the research of Dr Mountford and colleagues, who spent a great deal of time talking to men suffering eating and body image problems.

“They told me they felt male eating disorders were an invisible issue and that eating disorders were thought to only affect women. They felt very alone with their eating disorders and worried about how people would react if they found out,” Dr Mountford explained.

“The men we spoke to had found it difficult to admit to themselves and others that their eating behaviours were problematic and that they needed some support. This meant that many of the men waited a considerable amount of time before seeking help.”

Hala El-Shafie, Specialist Dietician and co-founder of Nutrition Rocks, agreed with Dr Mountford’s research.

“The greatest challenge surrounding body image issues and eating disorders in men, is that men historically find it difficult to share and discuss emotional issues they may be facing. Sadly, disordered eating behaviour and distorted body image is becoming increasingly prevalent in males,” Hala said.

“However, without greater awareness of the problem, many men will continue to suffer in silence and shame, and the underlying stresses that often precede disordered eating will continue to go undetected. Greater awareness of how men can access help and support is needed. This is not just a women’s issue.”


– Dr Victoria Mountford is a clinical psychologist in SLaM’s Eating Disorders Inpatient Service. Internationally renowned for its research and treatment development, the service offers assessment, treatment and management of people with anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating and other eating problems. Care is tailored to individual needs, and outpatient, daycare and inpatient treatment is offered.

– For more information on SLaM’s Eating Disorders Service visit here.

Nutrition Rocks aims to offer people easy and practical advice on living a healthier lifestyle whilst providing accurate tips in nutrition and well being. Together with celebrity interviews, Nutrition Rocks features real life stories to encourage and inspire alongside no nonsense information around food, nutrition, beauty, fashion and fitness.

Source: South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM)