A London led study has confirmed an alarming concern; the numbers of teenagers afflicted with an eating disorder of some form is increasing. The results of this study as more scientific and media attention is focused on the problem of body understanding and confidence.
Led by Dr Nadia Micali of the University College London, over a period of six years between 2003 and 2009, a 13% increase in the overall rate of eating disorders was recorded. The majority of people developing eating disorders remains women and younger girls but a new trend is growing.
This latest group of EDs is calling into question many previously held beliefs and statistics. There are plenty of possible reasons for this growth in boys with eating disorders. The problem could be biological, social, or a mixture of both. In the biological sense, it is known that men have a much higher response to visual stimulus, in many cases viewing women as sexual objects. The idea of women viewing successful and masculine men as attractive is also a long known phenomenon and may have something to contribute to this emerging trend in eating disorders. These differences may be leading to societal influences in how men and women are trained to view themselves and their bodies.
The increasingly early age at which boys and girls are introduced to the concept of sex or exposed to it through societal expectations may also be playing a major role in this problem of early onset eating disorders. As technology and communication increases we are seeing more and more incidences of sexualization at younger ages. The pressure in places like school to fit in from an early age places can play havoc on insecurities that can easily lead to problems related to body perception and eating disorders.
The results of this study are promising because they raise awareness of eating disorders and help break the stereotype of an eating disorder patient being female. With research comes awareness and from awareness the ability to help solve the problem through education. As more people understand that both sexes can suffer from eating disorder issues more people are helped towards a solution.