Prevalence of Anorexia Nervosa in males Student`s


Prevalenceof Anorexia Nervosa in males

Prevalence of Anorexia Nervosa in males


Eating disorders are said to be psychological disorders which arecharacterized by disturbed or abnormal eating habits (Counihan &ampVan Esterik, 2012). They are explained to be an illness that causesevere and at times fatal body instability and which are caused bydisturbances in the eating habits (Wooldridge &amp Lytle, 2012).While some of the disorders are characterized by excessive eating,there are others which are caused by the failure to eat. Women havebeen particularly shown to suffer from the eating disorders than themales in various subcultures. Nevertheless, one must appreciate thatman are not shielded from suffering such eating disorders (Wooldridge&amp Lytle, 2012). High prevalence of the eating disorders affectsall people who have obsessions with food, body shape and body weight(Counihan &amp Van Esterik, 2012). There are various eatingdisorders that are well researched about and whose causes and effectsare well known. The Anorexia Nervosa is one of the well-known eatingdisorders and which is suffered by either of the genders. In spite ofthe high preference of the disorder being noted with the females, themales in particular subcultures and groups are shown to be equallysusceptible (Wooldridge &amp Lytle, 2012). This paper, therefore,presents a critical literature review on the prevalence, the causingfactors and possible recommendation for handling the eating disorderamongst the gay communities.

The Anorexia Nervosa condition is explained to be a condition wherethe individual becomes very sensitive of gaining body weight and,therefore, refuses to maintain a minimal body weight (Murray et al.,2012). The size and the shape of the body become the primary focus ofthe victim and would, therefore, go to any extent to maintain theweight and the shape. The condition is highly prevalent among themales in the gay community than in other communities. Within thehomosexual sub-cultures, the males would become extra sensitive togaining body weight and to losing the ‘ideal’ shape (Murray etal., 2012). As such, the males would result in eating quite minimalamounts of food and which would be said to contribute towardsdeveloping the Anorexia Nervosa eating disorder. This paper,therefore, presents a qualitative literature review of the AnorexiaNervosa eating disorder among the gays in the LGBT communities.

Part2: Literature review

Theetiology (roots or cause), symptomatology, and prevalence

The Anorexia Nervosa eating disorder has been shown to beincreasingly prevalent among the males in the social context of theLGBT (Lesbian Gays Bisexuals and Transgender) communities (Wooldridge&amp Lytle, 2012). The changing social demographic factors havecaused the society to embrace various practices as are indicated bythe LGBT group. In fact, it the developed economies such as in theUnited States, the freedom of expression and ways of life guaranteedby the Constitution allow the people to live as one would desire(Murray et al., 2012). The Choice of living as a gay would,therefore, be justified by the law. However, males living as gays areguided by group norms and cultural expectations and which thenexplains that they are not independent of the external, influence.For instance, the males are expected to maintain an ‘ideal’ imagein the form of figure, shape and body weight and which then dictatesthat they embrace certain dietary practices (Wooldridge &amp Lytle,2012). The need to maintain the ideal body size puts pressure on theindividual to eat relatively small amounts of foods, increase therate of physical exercises and refrain from certain types of foods.As such, the causes of the Anorexia Nervosa Eating disorders in maleswould be explained by the social and personal expectations (Feldman &ampMeyer, 2010).

The male victims take an intentional stance of failing to maintain aminimally normal body weight (Darcy, Doyle, Lock, Peebles, Doyle &ampLe Grange, 2012). Therefore, they show fear of gaining weight andthere is, therefore, the outcome of distortion of the body size andshape for the particular interests. Literature shows that AnorexiaNervosa in the males has particular physical characteristics whichare shown by low body weight, fatigue, lack of energy, muscularweakness, unsteady gait, increased hair loss, lowered testosteronelevels and general body weakness (Darcy, Doyle, Lock, Peebles, Doyle&amp Le Grange, 2012). The emotional characteristics are such associal isolation, low self-esteem, depression, difficulties inself-expression, intense fear of gaining weight and insomnia amongothers. The males suffering from the condition tend to observe strictdieting practices, engage more in bodybuilding exercises, distortionto one’s body image, compulsive exercises and focusing onparticular body parts for shape. One would, therefore, show that justas the women suffering from the eating disorders, men would bepre-occupied with the outward appearance and, therefore, develophealth complications associated with the eating habits (Darcy, Doyle,Lock, Peebles, Doyle &amp Le Grange, 2012). Although the AnorexiaNervosa in males would be understood as a condition that is prevalentin the whole world, the rates would differ from a region to another.The prevalence has been shown to be higher in the developed societiesas compared to the rates in the developing economies. The rights ofthe LGBT are well pronounced in the advanced economies than in thedeveloping economies, hence the increase in the number of malesliving in the particular sexual orientation (Feldman &amp Meyer,2010). The rise in the number of males living as gay would have adirect implication on the rise in the rate of people suffering fromthe Anorexia Nervosa eating disorder (Darcy, Doyle, Lock, Peebles,Doyle &amp Le Grange, 2012).

TheMeaning and Significance of Anorexia Nervosa to gays

The meaning and significance of the Anorexia Nervosa among the gaycommunities would be illustrated by the development of the culturesnorms and the way of life. For instance, Counihan and Van Esterik(2012) shows that the gay men have a higher chance of developingeating disorders than the straight sexual orientation males. Amongthe explaining reasons why the gays develop Anorexia Nervosa are thenorms and values developed (Counihan &amp Van Esterik, 2012). Forinstance, among the gay communities, the males are guided by thevalues that place higher preference for body-centered focus anddifferent expectations of the appearance of the body. In fact, acontrast arises between what was considered feminine and masculine asthe males would invest in creating outward impressions through imageand body size (Counihan &amp Van Esterik, 2012). However, theintention and the inclination of the efforts towards maintaining the‘ideal’ body would be perceived from various perspectives. Forinstance, for rates of prevalence of the eating disorder would behigher in the males who identify with the gay community than with themales whose interactions are predominantly with fellow gay people.The explanation would be because of the meaning and the image thatthe person intends to portray to the external world. Therefore, forthe gays, maintaining the ideal body in size and shape would be morevaluable than overcoming the eating disorder (Counihan &amp VanEsterik, 2012). The victims, therefore, take an intentional stance oneating small amounts of food, avoiding some forms of foods and evenin engaging in physical exercises to prove a point. As such, theliterature reviewed show that although the medical understanding ofAnorexia Nervosa is that the condition is undesirable and bad becauseof the health risks associated, the gay group has a differentperception (Counihan &amp Van Esterik, 2012). The gay community,therefore, places some positive significance to the health conditionresulting from the eating disorder of Anorexia Nervosa in the males.

The members of the gay organizations and the committees believe thatslim and masculine bodies are ideal for the gays (Murray et al.,2012). Therefore, the focus of the victims is to maintain ‘good’figure as explained by the lack of protruding bellies, thewell-curved thighs and the buttocks as well as the fleshy look. Themembers of these groups would, therefore, have an intentional efforttowards avoiding overfeeding or taking certain foods at all (Murrayet al., 2012). While the outward appearance would be desirable, thecondition of regulating the body through minimizing food intake wouldlead to the development of the health risks associated with the habitas outlined above. At the extreme cases, the victims suffering fromthe eating disorder would face fatal limits and would succumb to lackof energy and a general weakening of the body system (Counihan &ampVan Esterik, 2012). The large bodies are undesirable to the LGBTcultures and therefore, embracing certain lifestyles as indicated byexcessive exercises and being sensitive to foods would be highlyencouraged.

Factorsthat may Affect the Incidence or Course of the Problem

There are various factors that would be considered individual orcommunity that affects the incidences of the Anorexia Nervosa amongthe gay people. For the individual factors, one would evaluate thefactors from the position taken by the individual in the relationship(Kocet, 2014). For instance, as would be expected, one of the maleswould take the roles of the female in the relationship. Often theroles would be perceived from the position of being the receptor inthe intercourse and, therefore, having the individual engage in theanal intercourse. The individual would, therefore, act in accordancewith the controls, restrictions, and obsessions (Kocet, 2014). Forinstance, the receptor partner would avoid taking food for longerdurations of time for hygiene purposes as through that, the bowelswould be free of the fecal material. Similarly, the partner wouldintentionally have to concede with the expectations of the roleplayed as the ‘female’ in the relationship and, therefore,abstain from foods for the maintenance of a certain body weight andimage as would be considered ideal in the relationship (Kocet, 2014).The excessive avoidance of food would, therefore, explain thedevelopment of the eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa among the gays.Worth appreciating is that although such would be ideal, the forcebehind the personal commitment would be explained by stereotypicalbeliefs in the society of the appearance of a woman, and thus, if theman would have to take the role in the relationship, then he wouldneed to conform (Kocet, 2014). In fact, the eating disorder developseven without own consent as the male strives to maintain the smalland ideal body size as contrasted with the larger bodies developed byovereating. The gay community would, therefore, have members striveto maintain the youthful appearance as considered ideal and in linewith the group’s norms. Therefore, the increased incidence of theAnorexia Nervosa among the gay would be understood from the practicaland individual commitment to avoid eating while preparing for sexualintercourse (Kocet, 2014).

At other times, the gay people would not be free to interact with theother people in the society as they would suffer prejudice anddiscrimination (Treasure, &amp Russell, 2011). In such cases, thepeople would opt to remain indoors and away from other people, whichwould lead to possible starvation, and hence the development of theAnorexia Nervosa eating disorder. In many areas the sub-SaharanAfrica, the LGBT groups realize high rates of discrimination and thatwould explain the prevalence of the group to develop the conditionsof Anorexia Nervosa for lack of acceptance in the society.Nevertheless, as Kocet indicates, the reason of the condition wouldoften be intrinsic to an individual pursues the ‘ideal’ body as agay (2014). Other factors that would explain the prevalence of thegays to develop eating disorders are together with bullying from thesociety, discrimination, homelessness, lack of social support and thepressure from the peers (Treasure, &amp Russell, 2011).

TheImpacts of the Anorexia Nervosa to the Gay Community

Worth appreciating is that Anorexia Nervosa has been shown to be ahealth risk. Therefore, the direct impacts linked with the eatingcomplaint are related to the health of an individual and theassociated economic implications. One would note that in the extremecases, the condition of Anorexia Nervosa would be managed throughmedical attention which would be costly. The body weakness thatresults from the failure to eat would result in allowingopportunistic diseases as well as general weakness. To theindividuals, the condition of Anorexia Nervosa would lead to loweredproductivity due to the body weakness (Strother, Lemberg, Stanford, &ampTurberville, 2012). As such, the individual would not manage toengage in productivities as would be engaged by the healthyindividuals. At the extreme cases, the condition would result indeath from direct complications and indirect causes such as diseases(Strother, Lemberg, Stanford, &amp Turberville, 2012).

Towards the community, the condition of Anorexia Nervosa would causethe people to spend many resources in rehabilitating the patients orin administering medication to the persons (Strother, Lemberg,Stanford, &amp Turberville, 2012). Many of the resources would beused in accessing food supplements while others would be used inmanaging the health complications that would arise and be associatedwith the eating disorder. Families of the victims would also sufferemotional and psychological effects when the individuals are deniededucational opportunities, medical attention and when they arediscriminated against (Strother, Lemberg, Stanford, &ampTurberville, 2012). Indirectly, the families and close relativeswould suffer social abandonment or neglect which would lead to highlevels of stigma. Therefore, the literature shows adverse effectsthat result from Anorexia Nervosa among the gay and which aresuffered by the individual patient, the close family and thecommunity at large (Strother, Lemberg, Stanford, &amp Turberville,2012).

Recommendationsfor Social Work Assessment/Intervention

The social workers have a direct and significant role to play inaddressing the challenges associated with the eating disorders suchas Anorexia Nervosa for the males (Kocet, 2014). First, one wouldappreciate that the social workers would be well educated to handleissues of social nature in much better ways than the community.Therefore, the social workers would offer sociological counseling tothe victims and guide them through behavioral change process(Gueguen, Godart, Chambry, Brun‐Eberentz,Foulon, Snezana, &amp Huas, 2012).

Worth noting is that the habit of refraining from food is learnedand, therefore, would be unlearned (Treasure, &amp Russell, 2011).The victims would need to be taken through the rehabilitation processand engaged in behavior change. Therefore, instead of having thevictims strive to access medical attention from the public sphere,the social workers would take the active responsibility of assessingthe conditions of the Anorexia Nervosa victims before referring themfor medical attention. Specialized attention to keeping the victimsin the company and ensuring sufficient supply of the medical and foodneeds to the victims would also be the role of the social workers(Gueguen, Godart, Chambry, Brun‐Eberentz,Foulon, Snezana, &amp Huas, 2012). Finally, the social workers wouldtake the active role in championing for the rights of the gaypatients of the Anorexia Nervosa in the society.

Recommendationsfor Community Assessment/Intervention

The community would play a critical role in nurturing individual inthe way to avoid the stereotype ideologies of the gay people. Whilethe gay people have a constitutional right to lead a life as onepleases, the process of socialization would be pointed out as a majorfactor that affects the orientation of the individuals as either gayor otherwise. Whenever the community notes the conditions of AnorexiaNervosa among the gay, then the communities would take an activeresponsibility for facilitating the management of the condition(Davies, Schmidt, Stahl, &amp Tchanturia, 2011). For instance, thecommunity would build rehabilitation centers for caring for thevictims. Other ways by which to intervene in the situation would beby embracing the victims as against segregating them and offeringmaterial and moral support as required for effective management ofthe conditions. Reducing the stigma that is associated with thesexual orientation of the gays among many societies would also becommended for the communities. Nevertheless, the community would alsobe charged with the responsibility of abolishing the social systemsthat lead to the creation of the stereotypes in the ‘ideal’ bodysize and shape (Davies, Schmidt, Stahl, &amp Tchanturia, 2011).Effectiveness in dealing with such social systems would reduce theoccurrence of the Anorexia Nervosa eating disorder while at the sametime reducing the prevalence rates of the young people in embracingthe sexual orientation as gays.


The literature reviewed in the paper illustrate that although highlyprevalent among the women, the Anorexia Nervosa eating disorder isequally prevalent among the males. The paper took special attentionon the occurrence of the eating disorder among the gay communities inthe larger segment of the LGBT. Various studies have been consultedto identify the source, symptoms, and management of the condition.Besides, the paper has reviewed the prevalence of Anorexia Nervosaamong the gays besides evaluating the effects and the significance ofthe condition to the individuals, the family and the society atlarge. The social workers are shown to have a direct responsibilityfor attending to the needs of the patients while the communityinvests in the structures to prevent the development of the eatingdisorder among the gays.


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Darcy, A. M., Doyle, A. C., Lock, J., Peebles, R., Doyle, P., &ampLe Grange, D. (2012). The eating disorders examination in adolescentmales with anorexia nervosa: How does it compare to adolescentfemales?. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 45(1),110-114.

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Treasure, J., &amp Russell, G. (2011). The case for earlyintervention in anorexia nervosa: theoretical exploration ofmaintaining factors. The British Journal of Psychiatry,199(1), 5-7.

Wooldridge, T., &amp Lytle, P. P. (2012). An overview of anorexianervosa in males. Eating disorders, 20(5), 368-378.