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Body image and eating disorders

older man at bathroom sink looking in the mirror

Did you know that men, like women, can struggle with body image issues or an eating disorder? Men may feel a lot of pressure to have a "perfect," muscular body and may focus too much on exercise and dieting. This focus can wind up hurting a man's body, job, and relationships. But medicines and counseling can help men with eating and body image disorders lead healthy lives.

Eating disorders

Eating disorders involve extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors around weight and food. The most common eating disorder for men is binge eating disorder.

Muscle mistakes

Some men try to pump up their muscles by taking anabolic steroids. But using steroids in this way can harm your physical and mental health — and it's illegal. Also, injecting steroids raises your risk of getting HIV and hepatitis.

Sometimes, men try natural supplements like creatine to build muscle. Keep in mind that "natural" doesn't necessarily mean safe. Make sure to discuss any supplements with your doctor before taking them.
With binge eating disorder, people eat a lot of food even if they feel full. They sometimes may try to make up for their overeating episodes by dieting. Other eating disorders that affect men include anorexia and bulimia.

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Body image issues

People with body image issues may feel unhappy with how they look and feel self-conscious about their bodies. If these feelings are extreme, the person may have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). People with BDD have extreme concern over what they see as flaws. Men and women are affected equally, but may focus on different parts of the body. Men tend to worry more about their skin, hair, nose, muscles, and genitals.

Obsession with food or how you look can be very painful. If you have eating or body image issues, don't let shame or embarrassment keep you from seeking help.

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Content last updated: January 10, 2011.

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