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Male Gender: Anorexia


Monday, May 18th, 2009 Male Gender: Anorexia

Inexcess wish to carry out research into the definitions offered in relation to any eating disorder. From that perspective, we visited the B-eat site and evaluated its content.

Interestingly beat is the leading UK charity for people with eating disorders and their families.

Eating disorders ‘are described by the organisation as a serious mental illness affecting 1.1 million people in the UK. B-eat provide help lines for adults and young people, online support and a UK-wide network of self-help groups to help people beat their eating disorder.’

The purpose of inexcess’s research it to identify who is affected, ask whether it is a female dominated mental health issue or are our male counterparts catching up?

According to a BBC (12 05 09) report a teenage male from Cornwall has been treated for the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. In addition Chris Hardy 19 has spoken out to tell other sufferers there is ‘life beyond anorexia’.

Hardy describes that controlling what he ate gave him a sense of power. However, when he realised he needed help, he sought treatment for seven months at the specialist Haldon Unit in Exeter.

He said: “I hope men don’t think they will show themselves up because they want help for this problem.” Hardy discloses that he is unable precisely, to determine the origin of his condition, although he believes that the reasons were both mult-faceted and complex.

He states, ““A lot of stuff happened at 11 or 12 that was quite traumatic. My parents divorced, I moved school, moved house. And then you also start to become more aware of body image at that age anyway.”

When he moved to Cardiff to study medicine at university, his food intake dropped dramatically.

He said: “I would count out the exact number of pieces of cereal to eat to have each morning, have cracker lunchtime, and then maybe a few bits of pasta in the evening. It was nothing really, but even that seemed too much and I would work on reducing it the next day. That was how I got a sense of achievement.”

Furthermore, at one time his Body Mass Index ( BMI), of which the Department of Health defines as the most common method of evaluating to see if people are under or overweight, was 15.

The range described as normal is 18.5 and 24.99. When he could no longer concentrate in lectures, he got help. Staff at the unit supported him with therapy while getting him to eat properly again.

The charity B-eat estimates that there are in excess of 11,000 male patients in receipt of treatment in the UK. However it is considered as only a small proportion of those who indeed have the condition and are hiding the problem.

Vanessa Ford, the manager of the Haldon Unit service states that the reason for men suffering eating disorders was the same as women. Significantly, she says, “Perhaps various traumatic things have happened in their lives, and perhaps it’s a way of trying to understand and control the world that’s going on around them.”

Chris Hardy said he felt that control was taken away from him when he first started treatment. But he added: “I had to have faith that the care team knew what they were doing.”

Now leaving the unit, Chris Hardy said he was planning to return to university and that he wanted others in his position to seek help.

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