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Teen Boys at Growing Risk for Eating Disorders

Decade of data shows increase in weight-control behaviors across cultures

FRIDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Eating disorders rose significantly among American boys between 1995 and 2005, according to a study that examined weight control behaviors among high school students.

The study, based on an analysis of national data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, identified a large increase in all forms of weight control behaviors among males, including dieting, diet product use, purging, exercise and vigorous exercise.

Hispanic males were most likely to practice weight control, while white males were least likely, said the study authors, led by Y. May Chao of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.

They also found a significant overall increase in dieting and diet product use among female adolescents. White females were most likely practice weight control while black females were least likely, the researchers said.

The increased weight control behavior noted in males suggests growing social pressure for males to achieve unrealistic body expectations, thus increasing the risk of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders, the study authors said.

"Considering that males have negative attitudes toward treatment-seeking and are less likely than females to seek treatment, efforts should be made to increase awareness of eating disorder symptomatology in male adolescents, and future prevention efforts should target male as well as female adolescents," the researchers wrote.

The study was published online in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about teen body image and self-esteem.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: International Journal of Eating Disorders, news release, Nov. 19, 2007

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