Anorexia in Boys – Driven by Six packs Obsession?

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Worrying trend towards Anorexia in Boys involved in Sport

There are many studies out there around diet and sport but it really worrying when the extremes of any diet start to affect the life of any young teenager. As our obsession with six packs started a to affect youngsters who are easily lead down the wrong path without any thought as to how extreme diets will affect their health. Even people who have been around in sport/bodybuilding can go to massive extremes to get the performance or body they want.

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The misconception that anorexia is a “girl thing,” is one of the reasons the disorder can go undetected in boys. Jenny Langley, a mother whose son nearly died from anorexia, is trying to change that.

Langley, British author of the book “Boys Get Anorexia Too,” said her son was 12 when he lost 25 percent of his body weight in just three and half months.

“He had always been really keen on sports of all types but especially [soccer], and he had recently had a growth spurt,” said Langley.  “He embarked on a rigorous training regime to build muscle and he developed a super six pack very quickly. At this early stage it seemed quite natural for a young lad with such a passion for sport and he received lots of positive comments from his sports teachers and peers.”

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, sports that emphasize appearance, weight requirements or muscularity—gymnastics, diving, bodybuilding or wrestling—put young athletes at greater risk of developing eating disorders.

One sad and unintended consequence of anorexia is that after losing too much weight, a child becomes too frail to participate in the sport he’s suffering to get better at. Langley offers tips for parents who may suspect their son is suffering from an eating disorder:

1.  Keep an eye on changes in the type and regularity of exercise regimes.
2.  Monitor food intake and consider if it is enough to fuel the level of your son’s sports training. “My son was eating 3000 calories a day but he needed 4000 calories to fuel his intense exercise regime. So he was losing a kg a week whilst still eating three big meals a day.”
3.  Talk with your son about the importance of fueling their body for the sport of their choice. “Boys love facts and figures so download some sports nutrition advice sheets or leaflets and discuss them with your son.”
4.  Have an open dialogue with your son’s coach so that if either of you becomes concerned it can be addressed at an early stage.
5.  Observe any significant changes in your son’s moods. If he becomes secretive, sensitive and argumentative this might be puberty but it might also be the early signs of insufficient nutrition.
Langley’s story has a happy ending. Her son is now 25, and still enjoys playing soccer. He even works in the sports industry.

 

Thanks to ABC2 News

 

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