Men ‘unhappy’ with their bodies…….

The following article is provided by the BBC and relates to the programme  Manorexia which was shown on BBC2 on Saturday 13 September, at 13.45pm.   You may be able to get a repeat on IPlayer.   ED in boys and men is often ‘not seen’ as families are often unaware and don’t ‘look’ for it. 

By AnthonyBaxter.   Revealed Presenter.

One of Britain’s leading eating disorder experts says as many as one in five young men are deeply unhappy with their body image.

Dr John Morgan said that for every man with an eating disorder there were 10 more who desperately wanted to change the way they looked.   “One in five young men have some degree of quite extreme distress,” he said.  Dr Morgan said he had also seen a big rise in the number of men with anorexia and bulimia.  Dr Morgan, who runs the Yorkshire Centre for Eating Disorders in Leeds, told the BBC’s news programme for teenagers, Revealed, that men who were unhappy with their bodies would like to change them.

Eating disorder

While the official estimate for the number of men with an eating disorder stands at around 10-15% of all sufferers, the real figure is much higher.   “We know that 1 in 20 young people suffer from some degree of disordered eating and that at least 15% of them are men and yet that’s a tip of an iceberg,” he said.   “There are men who have problems with compulsive exercise and excessive bodybuilding who have an illness, but we haven’t defined them. Our definitions of illness have been focused on women, rather than men.” 

In 2000, a report for the Eating Disorder Association found that not enough was being done to help care for men with eating disorders.   Eight years on Dr Morgan says the situation is now worse.   “When the report was written there were some units that had dedicated expertise in male eating disorders. A couple of these have now closed down,” he explained.   “There’s a lack of funding, a lack of interest. You’re dealing with a situation where you’re trying to develop a national service for men across the country, but the Health Service is now more focused on the local.”
Seriously ill

At 13, George became seriously ill with anorexia. He says initially doctors didn’t spot the problem.   He said: “The diagnosis is very vague, especially in boys. It’s not something that someone would presume was the case.  “I was tested for cancer, Aids, gluten allergies, and all various things like that, which really, I knew deep down, were completely irrelevant.”  George was eventually admitted to a clinic where he was told he had just four weeks to live. His body had started to eat its own muscles and organs to survive. 

“Anorexia dictates everything you do,” George said.  “Everything that your healthy mind says is right, ‘You can eat this, it wont make you fat at all, in fact, it’s completely healthy, it’s what normal people do’.  “But then anorexia would jump in straight off and be like – ‘What are you doing, this is terrible. You’re driven by an evil, deceiving affliction that’s not good, it’s really wrong’.”Dr John Morgan said he believes images of male beauty in the media are part of the problem, and that there’s now just as much pressure on young men to look slim as there is on women.   “The ideal male body image has changed into quite an unhealthy shape,” he admitted.

Huge pressures

In the past blokes have been comfortable with beer bellies. Now, men and boys are under huge pressures to look good.”   He explains that while the slim but muscular look, a six-pack, big arms, and a slim waist, has become the cultural ‘norm’, it’s not a naturally obtainable figure.  Dr Morgan added: “It’s completely unhealthy, and to achieve that sort of shape you’ve got to be either working out for hours in a gym, making yourself sick, or taking certain kinds of illegal drugs.”

While it’s often actors, models and celebrities who are blamed for putting pressure on the rest of us to look slim, it seems stars are under an equally intensifying amount of pressure.

Marcus O’Donovan is an actor who’s been in Holby City and the recent Narnia film, Prince Caspian.  He said getting in shape for a role and enjoying a normal life is very difficult.  “The pressure is increasing on everyone to look better and better and better,” Marcus said.  “I like to eat, it’s that simple, I love my food, and I do find that I’m quite worried. I have to watch what I eat and make sure that I train. It’s quite difficult to balance that and a really happy lifestyle.”

The Eating Disorder Charity, BEAT says that since May this year, it’s seen a huge increase in the number of men coming forward and asking for help.  The charity says it thinks high profiled cases of eating disorders, like John Prescott’s battle with bulimia, encourages more men to seek help.

Revealed… Manorexia is on BBC2 on Saturday 13 September, at 13.45pm.

If you’re worried about any of the issues raised in this report and want to talk to someone about it you can call the BBC’s Action Line on 0800 110 100 which is free from UK landlines.





Published: 2008/09/12 06:32:23 GMT




2 Responses to “Men ‘unhappy’ with their bodies…….”

  1. Patrick Bergstrom Says:

    It was great to see this article. Men do suffer from eating disorders. I am a former male college lacrosse player who battled anorexia for over 4 years. I have since been in treatment and am recovered. I am now reaching out to break the silence and to help others recover. In the U.S., treatment centers are starting to take more men, but it is still along road ahead. Many men and women still suffer in silence. It is my hopes to change this by sharing my story and by making myself available to help others. Nobody is ever alone in this fight. To find out more about my cause, story and outreach..visit

    Patrick Bergstrom

  2. cindy Says:

    Over one person’s lifetime, at least 50,000 individuals will die as a direct result of their eating disorder. Without treatment, up to 20% of people with serious eating disorders die. With treatment, that number falls to 2-3%. It is estimated at 10 million women and
    1 million men are currently suffering with eating disorders.
    Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders can help. We offer state-of-the-art treatment for adult men and women in AZ. Please call 1-800-845-2211 or

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