Teen boys’ eating disorders may focus on muscle gain, not weight loss

Jun 5, 2019 by

Boys who exercise too much can become malnourished even when they aren’t restricting their calorie intake, doctors say

Many people may mistakenly assume teen boys are not prone to eating disorders because their symptoms are different from what’s typically seen in girls and their focus is on building muscle rather than becoming impossibly thin, doctors warn.

What many parents and pediatricians consider classic symptoms of adolescent eating disorders, like calorie restriction and purging, are actually hallmarks of illness in girls, not boys, Dr. Jason Nagata of the University of California San Francisco and colleagues write in a commentary in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

Screening for teen eating disorders for both sexes often focuses primarily on these symptoms that are more typical among girls, the authors note.

“Many assessment tools that are currently standard practice to diagnose eating disorders are geared towards females and are based on weight loss behaviours with the goal to become thin,” Nagata said by email.

As a result, pediatricians and parents may not notice eating disorders among teen boys, which are often characterized by eating too much protein, rigid restriction of carbs and fats, and cycling between periods of overconsumption and calorie cutting in an effort to build muscle, the doctors write. Boys with eating disorders may also use steroids or supplements to bulk up or may compulsively exercise.

Exercise is an under-recognized component of eating

Source: Teen boys’ eating disorders may focus on muscle gain, not weight loss | National Post

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