Skip to content

Expert Warns Of A Rise In Men With Body Image Concerns Which Can Develop Into Eating Disorders

Trinity PR has been working with Priory Group to help share an important finding from one of its experts; that body image issues among men are on the rise and how this can develop into a serious eating disorder.

Dr Lorna Richards of Priory’s Woking Hospital, said men often felt worse today about the way they looked than they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Many struggled with their appearance – and similar to women, research showed men were often caught between feeling either too thin or too heavy.

They felt they couldn’t match up to an ideal, and their lack of confidence socially compounded their own criticism of their appearance. Poor body image was often linked to dieting, over-exercising, or eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, and to other mental health issues such as low self-esteem, depression or anxiety.

Dr Richards said it often resulted from men comparing their body with what the media suggested was the ideal male body size and shape – namely, lean and muscular. It was not uncommon for men with body dissatisfaction to be focused on weight change and muscle building, which could lead to over-exercising and the use of image enhancing drugs.

A study by the University of the West of England found that almost 30% of men think about their appearance at least five times a day. Yet research by Psychology Today reported that women are less concerned about a man’s body image than men perceived them to be.

Dr Richards said some men were frequently attending the gym to radically change their bodies, and the media had its part to play in fuelling a desire to pack on muscle and resemble cinema “superheroes”.

She also said that cultural shifts “such as a changing of gender roles” were also putting pressure on some men, such that they became confused about society’s expectations of them.

Historically ten times as many females as males developed an eating disorder. However, recent studies have shown the gap has narrowed and it is now thought that as many as 25% of those with an eating disorder may be male, although many go unreported. Dr Richards said: “I am certainly seeing more male patients. I believe many others simply aren’t being diagnosed or receiving the support they require.”

She says that men who reach out don’t always receive the right treatment. If someone receives treatment that isn’t helpful, Dr Richards says they “shouldn’t be put off” but “try again”. Early treatment is paramount in preventing issues such as an eating disorder, from becoming more severe.


For more information, please click through to:

Back To Top