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date: 22 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Eating disorders occur at the same rate in boys and girls before puberty. From puberty, a marked gender difference is noted in prevalence but partial syndromes are less gendered and some eating disorder symptoms are alarmingly prevalent among both adolescent males and females. The gender disparity in prevalence is disproportionate to the lack of attention that males have received in the literature. In thinking about gender issues, it appears more useful to develop an understanding of how males experience eating disorders, rather than continue to think about why so few do. There is a strong developmental component to eating disorders, with subtle differences in symptom expression between the genders raising interesting questions around the role of psychosexual, sociocultural, and biogenetic factors. Females may experience a more protracted course of illness than males and, if confirmed, more work is needed to disentangle what factors may convey protection for either gender, and how these may translate to treatment interventions for both. In general, a review of gender issues in eating disorder reveals more questions than answers.

Keywords: Gender, males, eating disorders, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa

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