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Could Your Teenage Boy Have An Eating Disorder? 3 Signs To Look For

by Elizabeth Barnes

There is much more awareness of eating disorders than there used to be, but many people still have misconceptions about these disorders. One major misunderstanding is that eating disorders are a "girl's disease". In reality, at least 10 to 15 percent of people who have bulimia or anorexia are male, and some experts believe that because males are less likely to report having an eating disorder, the real number is higher. A mistaken belief that boys can't suffer from eating disorders could lead parents to overlook the signs of an eating disorder in a teen boy. Take a look at some of the signs of eating disorders in teen boys that parents should be on the lookout for:

Excessive Exercise

Both boys and girls who suffer from eating disorders may begin to exercise excessively. In girls, this exercise is often clearly an attempt to lose weight, but in boys, it may be less clear. Teenage boys who suffer from an eating disorder may engage in body-building exercises, like weightlifting. This is because, while girls tend to idealize a very slender body type, boys are more likely to idealize a muscle-bound body type.

Boys who are involved in a team sport may also take training to extreme lengths when they're suffering from an eating disorder. They may be more likely to practice or play while injured and may disregard a coach's advice to slow down.

Steroid Use

Where girls may take diet pills or laxatives to help them shed pounds, teenage boys are more likely to turn to steroids to try to add muscle. It can be difficult to detect steroid use in teens, as some of the side effects, like acne, oily hair and skin, and a deepening voice, may also simply be chalked up to adolescence.

However, teen boys using steroids may display other side effects as well. Steroid use can cause medical problems, like high blood pressure, nausea, and gastrointestinal problems. They may also experience mood swings, increased irritability, and insomnia.

Personality Changes

Teenage boys suffering from eating disorders may become withdraw from friends and family and become less expressive, less talkative, and increasingly socially isolated.

They may display increased rigidity in their thinking, becoming less likely to compromise and displaying a need to be in control at all times. They may also display perfectionist tendencies in various areas of their lives – not just in relation to exercise and food, but also in relation to school, home life, and other hobbies.

Parents of teenage boys should be aware that eating disorders can affect their sons, and be on the lookout for signs of eating disorders. The sooner you can identify the problem, the sooner you can act to get your teenager the treatment that he needs.

Contact an eating disorder treatment center for more information and assistance. 

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