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Experts raising awareness of anorexia in boys and men

By Ernie Mundell, HealthDay News
About 0.3% of males will receive a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, with some types of boys and men at higher risk. Photo by Adobe Stock/HealthDay News
About 0.3% of males will receive a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, with some types of boys and men at higher risk. Photo by Adobe Stock/HealthDay News

Anorexia isn't solely a disease that strikes women and girls, Canadian experts say, so they want to raise awareness that the illness can also be serious for boys and men.

"Early identification and prompt treatment are essential," wrote a team led by Dr. Basil Kadoura. He's a specialist in adolescent health at British Columbia Children's Hospital and University of British Columbia, in Vancouver.

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They published their article Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

About 0.3% of males will receive a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, with some types of boys and men at higher risk. These include gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people, Kadoura's group said, as well as guys "involved in body- and strength-focused sports like cycling, running and wrestling."

Because of the ignorance and stigma surrounding eating disorders in men, too many who have anorexia are diagnosed very late, the experts added.

There are questions that might point to anorexia in males: "Screening for muscle-enhancing goals and behaviors is important to assess for anorexia nervosa," the team said in a journal news release.

Other warning signs include diet changes, vomiting, over-exercising and supplement and anabolic steroid use.

If anorexia progresses without diagnosis and treatment, the effects can be serious. They include unstable vital signs, slower than normal heart rate, electrolyte abnormalities and other conditions, the Canadian group said.

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For adolescents of either sex, therapy that includes parents is often the most effective.

"Most adolescent males with anorexia nervosa can be treated as outpatients with family-based treatment and ongoing medical monitoring. However, some adolescents may require treatment in hospital," the experts wrote.

More information

Find out more about anorexia at the Mayo Clinic.

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