Many parents are under the assumption that eating disorders can only occur in females. So they assume that their sons can't or won't develop anorexia, bulimia, or another related condition. Sadly, this is not the case. Though eating disorders are more common in females than in males, studies have found that for every three females suffering from an eating disorder (ED), there is one male suffering. It's likely that even more males suffer with disordered eating behaviors on a subclinical level.
If you are a parent with a teenage son, it's very important that you be aware of the signs of eating disorders in males. Contact your child's pediatrician or an eating disorder treatment center if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.
Rituals Surrounding Food
You may notice that your teenage son has developed odd rituals surrounding food. They may only eat at a certain time, only eat certain foods, or eat their food in a methodical manner (for instance, they may eat a bite, take three sips of water, and then eat another small bite). These rituals may grow worse and worse over time.
Preoccupation With Body Type
While females with anorexia or bulimia may become obsessed with being thin, males with eating disorders often become obsessed with looking "fit" or "refined." They may idolize men who they believe have their ideal body type. They may combine their eating habits with excessive exercise, spending hours in the gym or working out at home. Your son may talk about physical fitness and body shape excessively, while showing little interest with other topics.
Disgust With Other Body Types
Boys with eating disorders often project their body image issues onto other people. They may complain about the body types of others, making fun of them for being "fat" or "out of shape." Inwardly, they are worrying that they look the same way or that they will look the same way if they do not keep their eating habits under close control.
This is one characteristic of eating disorders that bridges the gender gap. Boys with eating disorders often isolate themselves from friends and family members. This is because they are trying to keep their eating disorders a secret. They are spending time focusing on their eating behaviors, which is not an activity they can engage in with others. You may notice your son spending less time with his friends. He may also avoid participating in activities with family members.