ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) – Eating disorders in male teenagers are more common than previously thought.
A new study by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital has found that roughly 18 percent of teen males have extreme concerns about their weight and physique, raising their risk to start engaging in risky behaviors.
Researchers warn that eating disorders with males may not be noticed during doctor’s visits because their desires are different than females in terms of physiques.
“Clinicians may not be aware that some of their male patients are so preoccupied with their weight and shape that they are using unhealthy methods to achieve the physique they desire,” study author Alison Field, an associate professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said in a statement.
“And parents are not aware that they should be as concerned about eating disorders and an excessive focus on weight and shape in their sons as in their daughters,” Field added.
Researchers were looking to find out if males with psychiatric symptoms related to disordered eating were more likely to start using drugs, binge drink or develop significant depressive symptoms. They analyzed questionnaires from participants enrolled in the Growing Up Today study.
More than 9 percent of males reported major concerns with their muscularity. Nearly 2.5 percent had those concerns with muscularity. Those males said they used supplements, anabolic steroids or human growth hormone to get their desired physique.
Researchers also found that boys who had high concerns about muscularity and used products to improve their physique were more likely than their peers to start using drugs and binge drinking frequently.
The study can be found in JAMA Pediatrics.