There are many reasons why people develop eating disorders and often the combination of events, feelings and pressures is what leaves a person feeling unable to cope.
For men, specific risk factors include:
- Being overweight for their height and age as children, and/or being teased or bullied about their weight.
- A history of dieting is one of the most powerful eating disorder triggers for both men and women.
- Being excessively concerned with fitness, which in turn can lead to over-exercising. Men may become pre-occupied with developing a particular physique (and this may begin to take over from concerns about their health).
- Participation in a sport that demands thinness. Runners and jockeys may be at particular risk.
- A job or profession that demands thinness. Male models, actors and entertainers are at higher risk than the general population.
Some men may experience severe distress due to a form of body image disturbance known as Muscle Dysmorphia. A person with this disorder may become obsessed with the belief that they are not muscular enough, despite the fact that they may in fact be above average in terms of muscle mass. Often the person will engage in intensive over-exercising and other harmful behaviours in an effort to develop their physique. Muscle dysmorphia is a very specific type of body dysmorphic disorder and should be addressed with the support of a medical professional.