Cause and Effect Analysis: Eating Disorders in Male

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1303 Words
Date:  2021-05-24

Eating disorders have been in the past associated with the female. The society and culture allow for women to acknowledge that they are experiencing eating disorders. This is different in the case of men who are stigmatized for coming forward to claim that they have eating disorders. Men and boys also battle with different illnesses caused by eating disorders just like women. The mainstream media and social media have a great impact in shaping the societal values, expectations and perceptions on a variety of issues. For instance, the media has been known to set expectations on how female and male body image should look. This has led to various negative impacts on both sexes. The society is tuned into believing that men should be masculine, strong and in control and thus should not be associated with eating disorders or illnesses caused by it (Holm-Denoma, Scaringi, Gordon, Van Orden, and Joiner Jr, 2009). This paper will examine and outline the cause and effects of eating disorders in the male by outlining the reasons why such disorders among men are on the rise and their effects.

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Social media and mainstream media are to be blamed for the rise of eating disorders in the male gender. Media sets false expectations on different groups of people. It sets high expectations for the male sex to have big, strong and well-built body images that show that they are in control and masculine. This has led to men and boys being increasingly concerned with the need and desire to achieve big bodies and as a result, develop eating disorders. Research shows that a good percentage of men have extreme eating disorders associated with intense emotions and attitude to food and weight (Ryan, et al., 2012). Men want to achieve great bodies to meet media expectations. They neither want to have small bodies nor become obese. In this case, it is easy to find men eating alt to get their stomachs full, and they resort to forced vomiting or excessive exercise which may be harmful to their bodies. The development of eating disorders is a grave concern for men with body image issues. Indeed, not all men with poor body image develop eating disorders, but some do.

The high rate of body image/ shape dissatisfaction by men causes eating disorders. A good number of men have become obsessed with achieving a particular type of body image/ shape. Body image dissatisfaction is no longer a problem affecting women only. More and more men are pursuing muscular, lean physiques rather than a lower body weight. Male athletes have an increased vulnerability to eating disorders caused by psychological factors. Athletes such as wrestlers, footballers, weight lifters among other athletes have the innate burning desire to achieve certain weight classes (Ryan, et al., 2012). For some males, heightened concerns about achieving a body that depicts muscularity may become part of an eating disorder, characterized by distorted perceptions about muscle bulk, and distorted eating and exercise patterns.

Socio-cultural pressure and expectations of the male gender cause eating disorders in the male. The culture expects men to be strong and not to show weaknesses in any way. Therefore, every day the male gender deals with various issues some of which may be hard for them to handle. However, they are expected to maintain an image of masculinity, strength and in control. When coping with particular issues beyond their control, males can sometimes displace these anxieties onto their bodies, manifesting in control over the body through excessive exercise and dieting.

Stigmatization of male with eating disorders is also another major cause of the rise in the number of men and boys developing eating disorders. There is a view and perception those eating disorders and other mental illnesses are not masculine. There has been a stigma around mental illness. Not many people can accept the fact that they have a mental illness. This stigma has delayed treatment and support for many males with eating disorders. This stigma has been further exacerbated by the widespread misconception that eating disorders are a female's disease.' These negative cultural messages do not reflect the realities of mental and physical health in males (Holm-Denoma, Scaringi, Gordon, Van Orden, and Joiner Jr, 2009). Furthermore, our socio-cultural influences almost accept that over-exercising and the extreme pursuit of muscle growth are frequently seen as healthy behaviors for males. They are even actively encouraged directly or indirectly. However, the fact is that such extreme activities related to abnormal physical exercise and eating habits indicate an eating disorder. They can also lead to severe physical health problems.

The issue of cause and effects of eating disorders in the male is one that faces controversial views. Though it is argued that social media, as well as mainstream media, has profoundly contributed to the cause of eating disorder in male, research shows that eating disorder is a mental illness that requires medical attention (Lundgren, Rempfer, Brown, Goetzand Hamera, 2010). The society can blame the increased eating disorders in male on media while ignoring that there are the other main reasons for it. Psychological issues may result in eating disorders due to the mental condition or state at which he or she is. Even though charging the media with responsibility for increased body dissatisfaction may make perfect sense, other factors contribute to that. However, regardless of this counter argument, it is essential to note that more than 80 percent of Americans watch television daily, for an average of 2.8 hours per day (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). Parents are also busy with their day to day work and thus leave their children to watch television all day long to avoid disturbance and interruption. Television greatly influences an average American family in more than one way. Commercials are designed using male and female body images and shapes so as to make them more appealing to the audience/ consumers. These pictures on television are also edited using the modern technology to make them look perfect. For this reason, the people in the society are left feeling that they do not have perfect bodies like the images shown on television. Therefore, the issue of body image dissatisfaction among men and women cannot be questioned. One recent study found that nearly 5.0%of female and 2.5% male have eating disorders such as bulimia and binge eating disorders (Ambrose and Deisler, 2011). It is expected that the percentage of the male with various eating disorders may be high because only a few of them seek medical attention.

In conclusion though eating disorder is common amongst females, males are also experiencing it. Eating disorders cause serious health issues if not addressed well and n time. There are various causes of eating disorders in men which can be classified into these three categories; genetic vulnerability, psychological factors and socio- cultural influences. Though the symptoms of eating disorders between men and women are similar causes, differ significantly.


Ambrose, M., & Deisler, V. (2011). Investigating eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating): Real facts for real lives. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015). American Time Use Survey Summary. Economic news release., J. M., Scaringi, V., Gordon, K. H., Van Orden, K. A., & Joiner Jr., T. E. (2009). Eating disorder symptoms among undergraduate varsity athletes, club athletes, independent exercisers, and nonexercisers. International Journal Of Eating Disorders, 42(1), 47-53. doi:10.1002/eat.20560

Lundgren, J. D., Rempfer, M. V., Brown, C. E., Goetz, J., & Hamera, E. (2010). The prevalence of night eating syndrome and binge eating disorder among overweight and obese individuals with serious mental illness. Psychiatry Research, 175(3), 233-236. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2008.10.027

Ryan, A., Radomski, J., Gropper, S., Connell, L., Morgan, A., Keiley, M., & ... Ulrich, P. (2012). Eating Regulation Styles, Appearance Schemas, and Body Satisfaction Predict Changes in Body Fat for Emerging Adults. Journal Of Youth & Adolescence, 41(9), 1127-1141. doi:10.1007/s10964-012-9757-8

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