Body Image Eating Disorders Males - July 7 2009 Newfoundland, Canada
Issue 2 July 7
Inside this issue:
********** Body Image and Eating Disorders in Males
Cover Story Cont’d 2
Paul W. Gallant, CHE, MHK, BRec (TR)
Chairperson’s Message 3 Healthcare Consultant
(An earlier version of a similar article was published by NEDIC, 2008)
Body Image Network 4
Public Support 4 When we hear terms such as anorexia, bulimia, eating disorders, or of
concerns about body image, we rarely think of males. Historically, the shame
Centre for Hope 5 and fear of humiliation drove males with eating disorders underground (Corson
& Andersen, 2002).
Walk of Hope 5 Yet, according to some, males are susceptible to a greater variety of weight
Eating Disorder concerns and body images problems than females (Cash & Pruzinsky, 2002).
Support Groups 6 More than 300 years ago Dr. Richard Morton documented the first case of an
eating disorder in a male.
News & Events 8 In the past few years more males have been publicly sharing their ex-
Contact Us 8
periences and struggles around their own eating disorders, perhaps in an effort
to reduce the stigma associated with this illness in males. There is a heightened
awareness of eating disorders in males. Recent media and blogs include per-
sonal stories about male’s struggles with eating disorders, excessive exercise,
extreme dieting, and body image problems. Such real life stories help us to un-
derstand the range of experiences facing males who have overcome, continue
Board of Directors to struggle with, or in some cases succumb to, eating disorders.
The publicized stories of males struggling with eating disorders include
Vince Withers (Chair)
those of John Prescott, former Deputy Prime Minister of Britain, David Beckwer-
Wilf Curran (Vice Chair) ment, a Canadian oil CEO, Gary Grahl, an American school counselor, and U.S.
model Ron Saxen. Dr Thomas Holbrook, an eating disorder expert, shares his
Gerry Angel – Treasurer personal struggle and recovery from an eating disorder as a co-author of Mak-
ing Weight. For some males such as Michael Krasnow, the ending is tragic.
Dr. Natalie Beausoleil
Michael died shortly after publishing his autobiography detailing his struggle
Stephanie Kendall (Corner Brook) with anorexia. For most males, the silence – indeed, secrecy – about their eat-
ing disorders needs to be better understood in order to provide appropriate pre-
Dr. Olga Heath vention and treatment for males at risk.
Dr. Anna Dominic
How many males have eating disorders?
Patrick Collins (Conception Bay Recent studies suggest that as many as one in four cases of eating disor-
North) ders occur in males (Hudson et al., 2007). Some research suggests that this
number is likely to be substantially higher among male athletes, especially those
for whom there are weight classes or aesthetic ideals, e.g. rowers, jockeys,
Cathy Skinner wrestlers, dancers, gymnasts, and body builders, male models, and gay males.
Other research suggests this somewhat stereotypical view of eating disorders in
Patricia Nash particular athletic groups and gay men may be less evident than originally
thought. The differences in findings may be due to the different samples of
Tina Martin males studied.
Page 2 The Butterflyer Issue 2
The risk factors for males for an eating disorder?
There are many factors that increase vulnerability to developing an eating disorder. These include per-
fectionism, childhood obesity, genetic liability, dysfunctional eating of a parent, chaotic family environment,
impulsivity, depression, teasing, heightened sensitivity, dieting, low self esteem, and body dissatisfaction.
Body dissatisfaction has emerged as one of the most agreed upon and vigorous risk factors for eating disor-
ders. In males body dissatisfaction related to shape and muscularity appears to be a greater predictor of eat-
ing disorders symptomatology than concern with weight alone, as is the case for females (Ricciardelli &
Males in western societies are increasingly expected to conform to both traditionally prized masculin-
ities such as independence, self-control, strength and problem-solving as well as to now also be emotionally
sensitive and responsive, care-giving and family oriented. Pressure to conform to masculine stereotypes in-
cluding muscularity is also part of the socio-cultural pressures that men and adolescent boys face. Muscu-
larity in men is seen to denote power, character and strength and is thus seen as desirable. Eating disor-
ders in males thus may begin with over-exercising, which gives the sense individual of achievement and self-
control, and then include increasingly restrictive or otherwise problematic eating, leading to an eating disor-
Barriers to identification and help
In males and females the systemic denial of the existence of the illness as a legitimate medical problem also
does little to encourage treatment seeking among individuals who are already ambivalent about recovery or
seeking help. Many authors consistently report that men are often reluctant to seek help and support for any
medical condition and particularly mental illness. Traditional stereotypes of men as strong and invulnerable
may hamper males with eating disorders from acknowledging and disclosing their eating disorder in fear of
being seen as being an inadequate man. Additional reasons why males are underrepresented in eating dis-
orders treatment and research include the view that it is a ‘female-only problem’, driving allocation of re-
sources to this larger population with eating disorders. This is compounded by poor knowledge and identifi-
cation by health professionals of eating disorders in general, and in males in particular.
Hearing from men with eating disorders
Recent studies with small numbers of males with eating disorders indicated that most of the male par-
ticipants had a low to very low quality of life (Gallant et al. 2009). Most males did not receive formal eating
disorders treatment. Reasons for this lack of treatment included not disclosing their eating disorder, not feel-
Issue 2 The Butterflyer Page 3
ing supported and understood when initially seeking help for eating disorders symptoms, and not feeling
comfortable in a female treatment environment. The absence of resources specific to males with eating dis-
orders was identified as a problem by most participants (Gallant & Birmingham, 2008).
Summary and Recommendations
The treatment of males with eating disorders is often not mentioned in research papers or its absence ex-
plained. The voices and needs of males with eating disorders remain largely unheard in our society. Little is
written on the subject of males suffering from eating disorders and few services are specifically designed to
meet their needs. An increased understanding of the perspectives of males with eating disorders will add to
public and health providers’ knowledge of the challenges males face, provide further insights into prevention
and treatment, plus contribute towards added support to males who struggle with eating disorders.
Researchers need to account for males in their studies and attempt to justify their omission from the
research or ensure their samples also attempt to include or recruit males.
Developing trust through the creation of respect and demonstration of understanding for what it is
like to be a person with an eating disorder and specifically what is it like to be a man with an eating disorder
are fundamental to establishing an effective treatment strategy (Andersen, Cohn, & Holbrook, 2000).
Community support groups as well as separate treatment groups for males would provide opportuni-
ties for increased openness and confidence building among males with eating disorders plus permit a focus
on more gender-specific aspects of the illness. An intermediate solution may be to ensure males at least
have another male present in any treatment group “so as not to feel totally isolated” (Andersen, 2002) and
that the therapists are sensitive to males concerns. To promote the increased expertise in working with
males who have eating disorders clinicians may consider temporarily applying admission criteria that are
more liberal so as to permit more males to be followed in the program and to gain increased competencies
treating men. If males are not attending treatment or support programs the obstacles to obtaining such sup-
port in that specific program or agency need to be further explored.
Feedback and future research
Feedback on this article is welcome and invited. Future research is planned with males who have eating
disorders. For feedback, to share your experiences of eating disorders in males, or for further information
about this article, kindly email the author in confidence. Email: Paul@GallantHealthWorks.com
Paul is a Newfoundlander living in British Columbia.
Hope Always Message
I want to take this opportunity to say that our collective efforts to create awareness and improve treatment
and support services for eating disorder families is beginning to show real progress. Organizations and
groups such as the Parents of Hope, the Eating Disorder Working Group of Eastern Health, the Body Image
Network, the new Center for Hope and the Foundation are working diligently and collaboratively to focus
their available resources where the most need exists.
Recent efforts by the Community Capacity Building Group to provide an extensive training program
for community healthcare leadership has great promise and the recent launch in Corner Brook was well re-
ceived by some 50 participants. The Body Image Network has been actively working on an early childhood
education program. Their project, which has taken two years of volunteer work, is ready for implementation
in our schools and we expect this effort to be a major start in getting an important wellness message out to
our most vulnerable young people. These two educational programs once fully implemented will, in my
view, support our awareness efforts and most importantly highlight the need for a more proactive approach
to education, training and wellness.
We have been anxiously awaiting the new Center for Hope. While it has been active for the past
year in temporary quarters, it has now moved to its new home on Major’s Path. The Center for Hope is the
culmination of a lot of hard work by a dedicated group of people who in my opinion have put together a first
Page 4 The Butterflyer Issue 2
class facility committed to substantially improving treatment and support services. The Center will act as our
front door hopefully for many more opportunities to build on a growing momentum to be more responsive
and caring for our eating disorder families.
The Foundation has been preoccupied with the need to improve support services for families. There
is a critical need to better understand the impact eating disorders are having on families and recent Families
Supporting Families Information Sessions have highlighted an urgent need to be more responsive. The
Foundation will continue to increase its efforts in this area and hopefully with the family support programs
being offered by the Center for Hope and the Parents of Hope we can look forward to better preparing fami-
lies for successful recovery. We are also encouraged by the establishment of community family support
groups in Corner Brook and Labrador City. The objective being in time having similar support groups in
most major centers in our province.
Since the Foundation opened its office two years ago we have heard from hundreds of families de-
scribing in vivid detail their life experiences coping with an eating disorder family member. We have at-
tempted to support these families and continue to advise them to seek immediate medical attention, empha-
sizing that early detection and early treatment are essential to a successful recovery. It’s clear to the Foun-
dation that families are coming forward in great numbers to discuss the early signs of an eating disorder.
This is really good news and hopefully as awareness increases families can overcome the stigma and self
blame so common amongst the public.
As I mentioned earlier these few words are intended to be upbeat and hopeful and I want to assure
you that good progress in being made on all fronts. The Foundation and its partners are working closely to-
gether to coordinate and collaborate on many good support programs, however while optimistic I want to
say our objective of continuous improvement, in other words today is a better day than yesterday, is a sen-
sible and realistic approach to meeting the needs of our eating disorder families. At times we are short of
resources however we are not short of enthusiasm and commitment. Taking the liberty of speaking for my
colleagues, it needs to be said we are listening, we are responding and we believe in and intend to be pro-
active in what we stand for: HOPE ALWAYS.
If you want to discuss what I have said here or discuss any aspect of our work you can contact me
at 722-0500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Body Image Network
The Body Image awareness, research, advocacy and collaboration we
Network is a group encourage eating well, being active and feeling good
of individuals and about oneself. We provide education sessions for
organizations com- professionals and students. We distribute current
mitted to promoting information to professionals and to the general pub-
a positive social lic. We organize awareness events and speak in the
environment through sharing information on body media. We review, conduct and participate in re-
image, self-esteem, obesity and eating disorders. search. We advocate for the inclusion and promotion
We are academics, advocates, researchers, dieti- of positive messages related to body image in the
tians, social workers, counselors, psychologists, doc- media, school and curricula. We continue to build the
tors, teachers, nurses and students. The Body Image Network and identify and build partnerships in the
Network exists to promote positive body image and community. For more information please contact
prevent eating disorders for all. Through education, email@example.com
To help us achieve our objective we are respectfully asking the public to support our Mission : to
provide improved treatment and support services for disordered eating families.
To make a financial contribution to the Foundation you can;
*Drop by the Foundation office
*Mail a cheque or money order
*Make a donation online at www.edfnl.ca
Issue 2 The Butterflyer Page 5
Centre for HOPE
On June 13, 2009, the HOPE Program moved to its new location on Major’s Path.
If you have a scheduled appointment booked on or after Wednesday, June 17,
2009, you will be seen at our new location
The Renata Elizabeth Withers Center for HOPE
35 Major’s Path
St. John’s, NL A1A 4Z9
T: (709) 777-2041 F: (709) 777-2042
Please note the numbers for our team will change.
The new numbers as of June 13, 2009 are as follows
Kelly Maloney 752-3611
Ashley Walsh 752-3612
Sarah Pegrum 752-3614
Judy Greenland 752-3616
Andrea Hann 752-3618
Nancy Rogers 752-3619
Nancy White 752-3617
Metrobus route 14 stops directly in front of the new building. Please consult with Metrobus at 722-9400 or
www.metrobus.com for more detailed information.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Kelly Maloney at 777-2018 (after June
12, 752 3611) or Jeannette Piper Program Manager at 777-4101.
This year August 23rd will mark our First Annual
Provincial Walk of Hope. The Walk will take
place in the following locations throughout our
Conception Bay North
Conception Bay South
If you would like to support our Walk at one of
these locations please contact Tina at 722-0500.
Page 6 The Butterflyer Issue 2
Eating Disorder Family Support Groups Established in Corner
Brook, Labrador City and St. John’s
In November of 2008, the Eating Disorder Community Capacity Building Project was piloted in Corner
Brook. One result of the Project was the identified need for additional services to both clients and their sup-
ports. As such, a support group for family and friends of individuals who live with an eating disorder was
established in the Spring of this year. This group named SOS (Supporting Our Selves) meets on Wednes-
day evenings on a bi-weekly basis at 35 Boones Road, Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
Prior to membership in the support group, individuals are required to attend a series of five educational ses-
sions which are considered a prerequisite to membership in the ongoing support group. The format of the
educational sessions comprise a short presentation by one of six speakers including a psychiatrist, general
practitioner, occupational therapist, dietician, and social worker/psychologist (present together) who provide
a general overview of their role in the treatment of eating disorders followed by questions and a general dis-
cussion period. The sessions are approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours in duration. In order to maximize atten-
dance, these sessions are held in the evening. Following the completion of the education sessions, partici-
pants would then have the option of transitioning into the bi-weekly support group.
At this time, we are accepting referrals to the educational sessions due to begin in September 2009. Indi-
viduals then have the option of transitioning into the monthly support group. For information regarding reg-
istration for the educational sessions, please contact:
Lorraine Poole, Psychologist or Debbie Dolomount, Social Worker at: 709-634-4506.
I’m sure like the majority of people; I had a general knowledge about eating disorders. Even though I knew
that there were a number of different forms, I really only thought of the emaciated young woman when I
thought of eating disorders.
Of course all of that changed in 2008 when my 16 year old daughter disclosed that she has had an eating
disorder for approximately 4 years. This disclosure came about because she had just faced a medical cri-
sis. I will never forget that sunny winter day! I guess in some ways I was finally relieved that there was
something. For the previous 6 months, my girl had done what I considered a complete personality change.
She went from the A student to not caring about school anymore. Her group of friends changed. I caught
her in numerous lies. One Sunday morning, I was greeted with a tongue piercing. And while all of this was
going on she was literally torture to live with.
So, I finally had a reason and as devastated as I was about what has been happening to her body and
mind, I had faith in her and that she would recover. I certainly didn’t know at the time that the road to recov-
ery could be very long and winding with many dead ends.
Faith is certainly a big part of my life and I truly believe that God has been watching over my dear daughter
since her conception. It just so happened that a visit to Mental Health and Addictions on a Friday afternoon
to see about making an appointment happened to be at a time when there was an immediate opening due
to a cancellation. By the end of the day, we knew she had an eating disorder and was severely depressed.
She started counseling sessions immediately and within 2 months she was entering Homewood Treatment
Centre. Everything fell into place for her. I know we are extremely lucky. I also know that without the sup-
port of the dedicated staff at Mental Health and Addictions our story would be much different today. I also
Issue 2 The Butterflyer Page 7
have to recognize the province for their financial contribution. Treatment programs are extremely expensive
and the fact that we didn’t have to worry about paying for her treatment at Homewood was an immense
worry lifted from our shoulders.
One of the biggest obstacles that we have had to face is her education. She would have graduated from
high school last week but because she/we chose to access the nine week treatment program at the Home-
wood Treatment Centre in Guelph last year, she did not get to finish her Level II. She tried to reenter high
school this past September, but that didn’t work out for her. So, she plans to go back this September. Sure
she will be older than the majority of the kids but I keep reminding her that her goal is to complete high
school and nothing else. She has the wisdom and maturity to accomplish whatever she puts her mind to.
Now here we are a year and a bit after her disclosure and a nine week treatment program and the road isn’t
quite so bumpy. Each day isn’t great and there are usually daily reminders about the illness but we all seem
to have a better handle on them now. And if nothing else, I have learned not to sweat the small stuff.
I attended a Family Day at Homewood last year and I have to say it was an incredible experience. There
were so many days that I felt that no one knows what its like to see their child suffer with an eating disorder.
But all of a sudden I was surrounded by families from all over the country talking about their own experi-
ences. We laughed a lot and we cried a lot and we learned so much from the counselors and each other.
I knew that I would want to start a support group at some point and last month I took the plunge. I re-
searched how to go about starting a support group and when I figured I was ready, I sent out flyers to every-
one I could think of. I knew that there were a few families in my area dealing with eating disorders but I had
no idea if they would be interested in getting together. The first meeting had my family and another family.
But that was okay. At least I wasn’t there alone. We talked for 3 hours and I do believe that when we left,
we all felt a bit better. We decided to meet again in July and who knows maybe someone else will join us. I
think you have to be at a certain place in your own mind before you can contribute to a group.
As if starting a supporting group wasn’t enough, I decided that we also needed a community group to help
our community become more aware of eating disorders. So, two days ago I organized our first community
meeting. There were 8 people present representing a variety of agencies, departments and organizations.
Plans were made to meet later in the month to organize our first Walk for Hope in aid of the Eating Disorder
Foundation of NL. I’m very excited that I am not alone in recognizing the need to get out there and start talk-
ing about eating disorders and body image.
Labrador West has begun its Eating Disorder support and advocacy journey!!!
Family Support Group meeting is scheduled for July 16th at 7:30 PM at the RC Basilica in Labrador City
Eating Disorder Community Committee meeting is scheduled for July 20th at 9:00 AM in Conference Room
B at the hospital.
Anyone interested in attending either of these meetings please contact Lisa at 944-9364 (before 5PM) and
944-5756 (after 5PM).
The Eating Disorder Foundation has held two very successful Families Supporting Families Information
Sharing meetings and will continue this program starting again in September. The purpose of these ses-
sions is to share experiences, exchange information and discuss what other family support programs are
available and how best to access them. These discussions are informal and provide an excellent opportu-
nity to get more involved and become better informed. We encourage Parents and Partners to attend our
next meeting. The date and time for the September meeting will be posted on our website soon. For more
information contact Tina 722-0500.
Page 8 The Butterflyer Issue 2
News and Events
Remember Concert of HOPE
Golf Tourn 4th, 2009
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Thursday, S olf Cours
Sunday, October 18th
Bally Haly G Start – Best Ball Arts & Culture Center
P – Shotgun please contact Featured Performance
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s by The
For more in l @ 685-080
Ted Cantwel 2-0500
or Tina Mart
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We have an extensive
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Helpful Links tapes available for pu
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www.edfnl.ca information about th
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www.daniellesplace.org rials, contact Tina at
www.hopesgarden.org 709-722-0500 or
If you or someone you know need help and support dealing with an eating disorder, the Founda-
tion is available and willing to help you find the support services you need.
Our door is always open, drop by or call anytime.
The Foundation Office is open Monday to Friday from 9AM to 4PM.
ALL INFORMATION IS KEPT STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL
31 Peet Street, Suite 208, St. John's, NL, A1B3W8
Phone: 709.722.0500 Fax: 709.722.0552 www.edfnl.ca firstname.lastname@example.org