Risk Factors for Men

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:

  • Body concerns, body dissatisfaction, body checking behaviours
  • A history of dieting
  • Excessive concern with fitness
  • Compulsive exercise or over-exercise
  • Dependence on exercise to manage emotions
  • Participation in sports that feature endurance, for example distance running or cycling
  • Sports that emphasise aesthetics or have a specific weight focus
  • Employment in roles that have a focus on aesthetic appearance
  • High levels of perfectionism
  • Intense need for approval
  • Social appearance anxiety
  • Difficulties managing intense emotions
  • Childhood history of overweight/obesity
  • Childhood history of bullying related to size or appearance
  • Past history of eating disorder or muscle dysmorphia
  • Muscle building and fat-burning supplement use
  • Preoccupation with becoming more lean and muscular
  • Continuing to work despite pain or acute injuries
  • Experience of shame, guilt or depression if unable to train

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.