Sunday, May 17, 2009

Anorexic Male Says 'Men Need More Help'

Nineteen-year-old Chris Hardy said controlling what he ate had given him a sense of achievement.

"A lot of stuff happened at 11 or 12 that was quite traumatic. My parents divorced, I moved school, moved house. And then you also start to become more aware of body image at that age anyway."

When he started medicine at university, his food intake dropped dramatically."I would count out the exact number of pieces of cereal to eat to have each morning, have a cracker lunchtime, and then maybe a few bits of pasta in the evening ... even that seemed too much and I would work on reducing it the next day. That was how I got a sense of achievement."

When he could no longer concentrate in lectures, Chris sought help and was treated for seven months at a specialist hospital.

According to national support charity B-eat, more than 11,000 male patients are receiving treatment nationally. But this may represent only a small proportion of those who have the condition and are keeping it hidden.

'Men Get Eating Disorders Too' is a new website for men who are affected by anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, compulsive eating and bigorexia. The site is designed to provide male sufferers with essential information and advice on eating disorders including warning signs, treatment options and support services.

Website founder Sam Thomas wrote on his Facebook "I'm currently trying to end the stigma associated with male eating disorders through my web and publicity campaign 'Men Get Eating Disorders Too.' Too often eating disorders are assumed to be female only conditions, however this is NOT the case. Recent statistics released by the NHS Info Centre say that a quarter of diagnosed cases of eds are men (approx 700,000 men) - no doubt there are many more cases that are undiagnosed."

Men speaking out about their eating disorders is a huge leap forward in cutting through the stigma associated with males and eating issues. Hopefully this will encourage more males to come forward and seek help.

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