A study of L.A. high school boys found some forms of eating disorders were equally prevalent in boys and girls — a statistic that runs against common assumptions.
Dispelling assumptions that women are typically the ones who suffer from eating disorders, a new survey reveals that high school-aged boys in Los Angeles are as likely as their female classmates to purge through laxatives or vomiting, or use diet pills without the advice of a doctor.
The survey, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Los Angeles Unified School District, found that 5.2 percent of the boys polled admitted to recently vomiting or using laxatives to control their weight, a figure that's twice the national average, the Los Angeles Times reported.
While girls still exceed boys in statistics related to fasting, 6.2 percent of the boys in the study said they'd used diet substances — pills, powders or liquids — without the advice of a doctor, compared to 6.1 percent of girls.
Across the country, according to the Times, statistics show that boys are increasingly turning to purging and dieting pills to shed pounds. Chicago, Houston and Charlotte are among the cities that have experienced higher-than-average rates of eating disorders among high school boys.
Experts told the Times that male eating disorders can be especially pernicious because common detection and treatment methods are tailored toward women and not men.
At the root of the recent spike, a Harvard psychologist told the Times, is that more than ever before, muscular, topless men are appearing in advertisements and on TV.
"Boys are growing up now with the billboard of the guy with perfect pecs and biceps," said Roberto Olivardia, a clinical instructor in Harvard Medical School's psychiatry department. "You just didn't see that years ago."
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