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Eat Weight Disord. 2010 Mar-Jun;15(1-2):e15-22.

Eating disorders in men: current features and childhood factors.

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Innsbruck Medical University, Department of Psychiatry, Anichstr. 35, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria.



Disturbed interactions with one's body and with other persons are two major features in eating disorders. This study was designed to assess current and childhood characteristics of eating-disordered men.


The authors interviewed 32 men with eating disorders (anorexia nervosa: N=9, bulimia nervosa: N=15, eating disorders not otherwise specified: N=8) and 43 control participants with no such history similar in age and educational status. The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV was used to assess Axis I disorders and a self-designed interview to assess actual social and sexual characteristics and childhood body-focused and social behaviors including sexual and physical abuse.


The two groups differed significantly with regard to clinical, sexual and social features, with a three times higher rate of psychiatric disorders, fewer sexual and social relationships in the index group than in the controls. Eating-disordered men differed significantly from controls on most measures of body-focused and social behaviors, displaying higher rates of thumb sucking, nail biting, auto-aggressive behavior, and nudity as a familial taboo during childhood, as well as less parental bodily caressing than did controls. The index group reported significantly poorer relationships to their parents, fewer friends and persons of trust, and more often had adjustment problems at school than did their counterparts.


Our data show that disturbed interactions with one's body and with other persons in eating-disordered men are associated with a body-denying and distant family climate and an auto-aggressive, anxious and inhibited social behavior during childhood.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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