When we think of anorexia nervosa, most of us quickly associate the disease with teenage girls. But, according to a new report, adolescent boys are dying to get thin too. And the number of them with eating disorders is shocking.
Now pegged as an “equal opportunity disease”, as many as one million boys ages 12 to 25 suffer from anorexia. What’s driving all of this? The same struggles for perfection that girls suffer from too.
Dr. James Lock of the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital told the Today show that it’s all about living in extremes:
It’s very unusual for someone to come into my office for an assessment of anorexia if they do not have straight A’s. And this is true for boys. And this is true for girls. And in sports, these are great athletes usually who drive themselves to the next level.
Experts say the rising level of boys with anorexia is also due to the media–the airbrushed photos of men on magazine covers with rock hard abs, flawless six packs and “perfect” bodies. While girls focus on calories and weight, boys tend to focus on muscle mass and the amount of fat on their bodies.
The warning signs of anorexia in boys? Excessive exercise, picky eating, hiding food that was supposed to have been eaten, and layering clothing to hide their bodies and “disappear”.
All of this is eye-opening, shocking and sad. The other thing that is a major hurdle with this disease is getting insurance coverage. While some families may be able to get it in the short term, Dr. Nancy Snyderman says it’s often not long enough. “This is a long-term treatment”, she warns.
Take a look at the story of one teenage boy who, sadly, died from this disease. His mother helps us understand what we can learn from it: