Men should be included in binge eating research

Men should be included in binge eating research

By Liz Lockhart

Both men and women are affected by binge eating and yet men are underrepresented in research.  The medical impact of binge eating is just as damaging to men as it is to women but the number of men seeking treatment is far lower than the estimated number of people affected by this disorder, research has shown.

A new study into this has been published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.  The study was led by Dr. Ruth H. Striegel from Wesleyan University, Connecticut.

Striegel says ‘Binge eating is closely linked to obesity and excessive weight gain as well as the onset of hypertension, diabetes and psychiatric disorders such as depression.’

‘However, most of the evidence about the impact of binge eating is based on female samples, as the majority of studies into eating disorders recruit women.’

Because there have been so few studies which have included men there is concern that men could be reluctant to seek treatment.  Another concern is that healthcare providers may be less likely to detect a disorder in male patients because of the fact that eating disorders are widely seen as a problem associated with females.

Health service providers report that the number of men who are treated for binge eating is well below what would be expected based on the estimates of prevalence for this condition.

A team of researchers, led by Dr. Striegel, used cross-sectional data from 21,743 men and 24,608 women who took part in a health risk self-assessment screening.  The team then analysed any differences which occurred within the group for obesity, dyslipidemia, diabetes, hypertension, depression and work impairment.  They found that out of the 46,351 participants, 1,630 men and 2,754 women were binge eaters, defined as having at least one binge episode in the last month. 

There was found to be a comparable impact, for both men and women, on both their physical and mental health as a result of binge eating.

The study suggests that binge eating has an impact on work productivity for both men and women, which demonstrates the need for employers to recognise binge eating as a serious health risk which should be equally acknowledged alongside stress and depression.

‘The under-representation of men in binge eating research does not reflect lower levels of impairment in men versus women.  Efforts are needed to raise awareness of the clinical implications of binge eating for men so they can seek appropriate screening and treatment,’ concluded Striegel.

Mental Healthy have reported on the 'Rise in eating disorders among men' which you can read here.

No votes yet