Many men have suffered eating disorders in silence over the years but make no mistake they need help. In spite of the fact that eating disorders affect both men and women, men are often overlooked when it comes to diagnosis and treatment. This issue seems to be on the rise among males, so knowing the signs to watch for is imperative to them getting proper support.

According to a recent article from The Washington Post, more boys and young men are bulking up to the point of compromising their overall health these days. The trendy social media bodies for men are just as prevalent as they are for women. Young teens and men are bombarded with supplements that are unregulated and promise the “it” body. When exercise or body image become obsessions, weight training is neither healthy nor positive. It is instead replaced with a disorder that can be life threatening and have major consequences. Muscle dysmorphia (also referred to as bigorexia), a disorder that makes individuals perceive themselves as small and weak, leaves many men obsessed with building muscle mass and actually causing harm to their physical and mental health.

In some cases, bigorexia can be associated with addiction, particularly to anabolic steroids, which are often used to enhance muscle growth. Anabolic steroids can have serious side effects, including liver damage, heart disease, and mental health issues such as depression and aggression. Additionally, the use of anabolic steroids can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when use is discontinued. It’s important to note that not all people with bigorexia become addicted to steroids or other substances. However, for those who do struggle with addiction, it’s important to seek professional help from a qualified healthcare provider who can provide appropriate treatment and support.

The Red Flags to Watch for include:

  • Cutting out specific food groups
  • Being obsessive about what they are eating
  • Opting for Protein shakes multiple times a day
  • Hiding their body
  • Always looking at their body

Men in the entertainment industry are also coming forward about these same pressures they face around body image. Ed Sheeran, recently opened up to Rolling Stone about his issues with eating disorders. He said, “I’m self-conscious anyway, but you get into an industry where you’re getting compared to every other pop star. I was in the One Direction wave, and I’m like, ‘Well, why don’t I have a six pack?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, because you love kebabs and drink beer.’ Then you do songs with Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes. All these people have fantastic figures. And I was always like, ‘Well, why am I so … fat?’ ” He went on to say, “I have a real eating problem,” and has had issues with binge eating and purging. He also spoke about the difficulty to speak publicly about these issues because of the shame associated with them. Elton John has also spoken publicly about these same pressures and issues he has faced.

So what’s the next step to helping men facing body image issues and eating disorders? Awareness is a great place to start and with famous men speaking out, more men may feel safer to enter the conversation and to get the support they need. It is important for loved ones to watch for signs of disordered eating if they should suspect there is a problem and seek out support outlets before too much damage is done.

Scottsdale Recovery and Detox Center® provides a wide range of services to address substance abuse and mental health issues. Visit or call 1-888-NODRUGS for more information and support.


Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.