Eating disorders refer to a number of conditions characterised by eating patterns that affect a person’s health and wellbeing.

The most well-known eating disorders are anorexia, characterised by someone consuming little or no food at all, and bulimia, where a person binge eats before purging (making themselves sick).

Eating disorders are often believed to mainly affect women, but this isn’t true. Eating disorders are more common than you might think among gay and bisexual men, and the issue is widely under-reported.

Living with an eating disorder is a complex mental health condition which can lead to serious health complications, so it’s vital to get help and advice if you’re worried about it.

If you get in touch with SX, we can talk to you about your concerns, and help you to access support that can help. You can find out more about eating disorders by visiting www.beat.org.uk

What causes eating disorders?

The complex relationship between gender identity, sexual orientation, how an individual person feels, and their body image are only just starting to be understood.

However, we do know there are certain factors which affect the development of eating disorders in gay and bisexual men:

  • Higher rates of depression and anxiety-related conditions compared to the general population
  • Struggling with identity in a heteronormative society – something which is often not appreciated by many people, groups and services
  • Higher rates of issues including low self-esteem and poor body image
What are the symptoms of eating disorders?

It can be really hard to work out when someone is suffering from an eating disorder, but symptoms tend to fall into two main groups – behavioural or physical.

Here are some things to look out for:

Behavioural symptoms:

  • Reducing food intake (e.g. smaller portion sizes)
  • Skipping meals
  • An obsession with weight
  • Rarely eating food around other people
  • Being very secretive around food
  • Excessive exercise

Physical symptoms:

  • Sudden, unexplained weight loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Fainting