Although eating disorders are less common in men than in women, the number of men affected during their lifetime is steadily rising. Approximately 15% of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder cases occur in men. There are several risk factors to consider when determining whether a man is at risk for an eating disorder, and some of these risk factors are the same as those found in women. A few essential differences include weight history, perceived goals related to the eating disorder, and the most likely eating disorder diagnosis. Men frequently have had mild to moderate obesity at some point during development, whereas women generally have perceived themselves as overweight but have had a standard weight history. Men with an eating disorder are motivated to bulk up muscle and achieve optimal performance in sports, whereas women are motivated to lose weight to be thin and attractive. Men are most likely to have a binge eating disorder, whereas the most common eating disorder in women is anorexia nervosa.
The most common eating disorder in men is binge eating disorder, not anorexia nervosa (A). Like women, men with eating disorders often feel shame and isolation, and they often have underlying depression (B). It is not uncommon for them to have problems with alcohol and drug abuse. Approximately 30% of people with an eating disorder have a history of sexual abuse. While this abuse is likely underreported in men, it is still less common than women (D). Men and women with an eating disorder have similar prognoses. The treatment is similar and should be tailored to the individual.