According to some researchers, anorexia is affecting an increasing number of men. Generally associated with women, excessive food deprivation with the goal of improving one’s body is quickly crossing the gender barrier.
Anorexia is typically observed in young women between the ages of 10 and 30. It is eight to ten times more frequent in women than it is in men. However, this ratio looks as if it is decreasing rapidly. It is estimated that in Quebec, about 65,000 young people aged 14 to 25 suffer from an eating disorder.
Pop culture does not seem to be imposing the same goal of thinness in men than it does in women. In fact, male “reference” models are more diverse than female ones. Some men would like to be as thin as Mick Jagger, others would like to be as lean and muscular as Brad Pitt or James Bond, while others dream of being as big and cut as bodybuilders. But it seems that the tyranny of body image and the drive to be slender is increasingly affecting young men.
Anorexia rears its ugly head as much in physical terms as it does in psychological ones. The most prominent symptoms are a distorted body image, feelings of failure and an erroneous perception of one’s body capacity. People affected by this disorder can refuse to eat until death comes to claim them. According to Statistics Canada, one anorexic in five dies from complications linked to this affliction, or commits suicide.
However, if detected early, the disease is likely to be successfully treated. Approximately 50% of sufferers can be “cured” with proper psychological and physical treatments. When followed closely by professionals, individuals should be able to find the strength to lead a normal life, both on the physical and emotional fronts.
How can anorexia be prevented? Among other things, one should remain vigilant and try to identify excessive or obsessive behaviours toward food and physical exercise, particularly with teenagers. Family members should be encouraged to speak freely about their feelings, without fear of being judged. A person close to you is experiencing weight problems? Do not hesitate to talk about it but most importantly, seek help from a professional. Health professionals at your local CLSC can point you toward the resources that are available to you. This will not only benefit the person experiencing difficulties, but it will provide you with the right tools you will need to be able to help her or him.
This problem is consistently getting worse and is affecting young people who should never be left to their own devices. You can help!