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 Post subject: Eating disorders 'nearly as bad for men'
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:05 pm 
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Eating disorders 'nearly as bad for men'

Anna Salleh
ABC

The impact of eating disorders on men's health has been underestimated, say researchers.

Deborah Mitchison at the University of Western Sydney and colleagues report their findings online ahead of print in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

"Researchers have thought eating disorders are the domain of women so a lot of the research has been biased towards women and not really recruited men," says Mitchison, a PhD candidate in the School of Medicine.

In the first study of its kind, Mitchison and colleagues surveyed a 3000-strong representative sample of the population from South Australia on factors related to eating disorders.

Participants were asked about such things as regular binge eating or strict dieting and the degree to which their weight and shape affected their self worth.

While the researchers found that more women were affected by these things, the number of men affected was also considerable.

Overall, 28 per cent of women were affected by factors related to eating disorders whereas 18.5 per cent of men were affected.

"That was surprising. It was thought that there was a bigger gap between men and women," says Mitchison.

The researchers found that 23 per cent of women reported that their self worth was 'moderately' or 'extremely' influenced by their body shape and weight, and 13.5 per cent of men.

"That percentage for men is quite high," says Mitchison.

The study found 5.7 per cent of women reported binge eating large amounts of food with a loss of control at least once a week over the past three months. 4.1 per cent of men reported this behaviour.

The researchers also found that eating disorders resulted in a much lower quality of physical and mental health - for both men and women.

"Even though men may be less likely to experience eating disorder features than women, overall there is very little difference between men and women in the impact of these on their physical and mental health," says Mitchison.

"We really need to focus on men as well as women in prevention and treatment of eating disorders."

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