Much like depression, eating disorders appear to affect women more so than men. This viewpoint has been challeneged recently as experts have published more studies. Men tend to suffer from eating disorders as much as women, but do not admit their problems to others as readily.The well-known eating disorders anorexia and bulimia are more common in women than men. Compulsive eating disorder is different, affecting a similar percentage of both sexes, yet men often suffer in silence rather than seek professional eating disorder treatment. It has also been suggested that society is more accepting of overeating and obesity in men, viewing large fatty meals and weight gain as relatively “normal” for adult males. Men suffering from a compulsive eating disorder are therefore less likely than women to be the subject of an intervention by doctors, friends, or relatives.
A study recently published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders indicates that, although men are less likely to seek help for a compulsive eating disorder, men who binge eat “suffer similar levels of clinical impairment” to women with overeating symptoms. The signs and symptoms of compulsive eating disorder include:
- consuming large quantities of food in a short time
- eating for reasons other than hunger
- being secretive or dishonest about eating habits
- feeling out of control around food
Researchers compared the degree of overeating symptoms and clinical effects between men and women using a self-assessment survey, looking at gender differences in factors such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- activity levels
The degree of impairment was found to be similar in large numbers of binge eaters, whether male or female. The difference was much greater when compulsive eating disorder patients were compared with men and women who do not have an eating disorder. The authors of the study explained that "The under-representation of men in treatment-seeking samples does not appear to reflect lower levels of impairment in men versus women. Efforts are needed to raise awareness of the clinical significance of binge eating in men so that this group can receive appropriate screening and treatment services".