Male Anorexia as an Eating Disorder: Similarities and Differences with Anorexia Nervosa in Women

Living reference work entry


Anorexia nervosa is a chronic mental disorder manifested as persistent restriction of energy intake leading to significantly low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, and disturbance in body schema. The title of this chapter, which so explicitly relates to men, aims at overcoming the myth that eating disorders affect only female patients; at the same time, it also suggests that eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, are nevertheless gender-related. According to some recent studies, men represent as much as one fourth of all anorexia patients. Male anorexia nervosa is similar to female anorexia nervosa in many respects, but there are also gender- and sex-specific traits related to the history of body weight fluctuations, the type of compensatory behavior used to achieve weight loss, the patient’s motivation for weight loss, the frequency of recorded sexual abuse, sexual identity, and sexual orientation, any recognized comorbidity, and the body schema and body image, in conjunction with the increasing frequency of objectification and sexualization of the male body in the media. Since amenorrhea is no longer an essential diagnostic criterion for anorexia nervosa, the diagnosis of this disorder in male patients has become easier. This may be one of the reasons for the increasing incidence of this disorder among men in recent years. It makes sense for this trend to be accompanied by increased attention from researchers and clinicians if they are to meet this population’s specific therapeutic needs.


Males Anorexia nervosa Eating disorders Energy restriction Diagnosis Psychotherapy Comorbidity Gender identity Compulsive exercise Body schema Body image 

List of Abbreviations


Anorexia nervosa


Autistic spectrum disorder


Body mass index


Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 5th edition


Eating disorder(s)


Eating disorders examination


Eating disorder examination questionnaire


Eating disorder inventory-3




International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, 10th revision


Iowa gambling task


Matched population mean weight


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Unit for Eating Disorders, Center for Mental HealthUniversity Psychiatric Clinic LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia

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