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National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC): Eating Disorders in Males

A common misconception is that only females are affected by eating disorders. Large population studies have estimated that up to 25% of people suffering Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa are male, and nearly an equal number of males and females suffer from Binge Eating Disorder. Due to cultural stigma and under diagnosis the number of male sufferers of body dissatisfaction may be higher than estimated.

National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC)


The perception that eating disorders are only women's issues, and lack of information or education may cause medical professionals to overlook or misdiagnose eating disorders. Male sufferers may not recognise the signs and symptoms of eating disorders, therefore the number of males affected by these issues may be underestimated.


Eating disorders affect both males and females and are mental illnesses that can potentially be life threatening if not treated. Although eating disorders can develop at any age, males are most commonly at risk of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa in their late teens to early twenties.

Those most at risk of developing body dissatisfaction are male athletes, in particular those involved with sports that place great importance on weight classes and aesthetic ideals, for example weight lifters, gymnasts and body builders. Common risk factors for males include:

  • bullying
  • dieting
  • trauma
  • childhood obesity
  • perfectionism
  • sociocultural influences that increase vulnerability to developing an eating disorder, for example the perception that men should only have one body type;  lean and muscular.

The National Eating Disorders Collaboration website has useful fact sheets and info graphics to raise awareness and increase evidence-based practice.

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