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Eating Disorders Among Men May Be More Common

Update Date: Nov 04, 2013 05:27 PM EST

Eating disorders are not just a girl thing. any people assume eating disorders very rarely affect males, but a new study of 5,527 teenage males reveals that one in five adolescent boys feel extremely concerned about their weight and physique. Researchers said that these boys were also significantly more likely to start engaging in risky behaviors like drug use and binge drinking.

"Males and females have very different concerns about their weight and appearance," lead author Alison Field, ScD, from Boston Children's Hospital Adolescent Medicine Division, said in a news release.

While girls are concerned with thinness, boys may be more focused on muscularity.

Researchers reviewed responses to questionnaires completed as part of the Growing Up Today Study. Teens in the study responded to surveys every 12 to 36 months from 1999 through 2010.

Researchers found that boys tended to be more interested in muscularity than thinness, with 9.2 percent of males reporting high concerns with muscularity, compared with 2.5 percent concerned about thinness and 6.3 percent concerned with both aspects of appearance.

Researchers found that boys concerned about muscularity and who used potentially unhealthy supplements, growth hormone and steroids to enhance their physique were about twice as likely to start binge drinking frequently and much more likely than their peers to start using drugs. However, those who concerned with thinness were significantly more likely to develop depressive symptoms.

The study revealed that a total of 2.9 percent of all respondents had full or partial criteria binge-eating disorder, and nearly one-third reported infrequent binge eating, purging or overeating.

"Clinicians may not be aware that some of their male patients are so preoccupied with their weight and shape that they are using unhealthy methods to achieve the physique they desire, and parents are not aware that they should be as concerned about eating disorders and an excessive focus on weight and shape in their sons as in their daughters," said Field.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

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