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The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Senior Issue 2024
June 5, 2024

Trends among young men

The latest diet and exercise fads can be concerning as more awareness of men’s mental health highlights the disordered traits of these trends.
Trends+among+young+men

In the last few decades, there has been a rise in unhealthy male exercise and diet habits. Normally equated with femininity, eating disorders present differently for each person, and in men, it often goes unnoticed and untreated.

Similar to how unhealthy and unrealistic standards for female body weight and shape can be seen through social media, movies and TV shows, and toys like Barbie, there has been a rise in unrealistic standards for men from the same sources. However rather than society favoring a smaller figure, men can be expected to have a muscular or “ripped” physique.

Not only are societies standards different for men and women, but the way that the same eating disorder category presents in men vs women is very different.

The new wave of eating disorders seen among men can be described as the “gym rat” trend. This includes exercising in the form of strength training or cardio multiple days a week for 1-3 hours per session. Prioritizing protein intake and limiting carbohydrates.

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What makes this fad dangerous is the compulsion to do so and the guilt surrounding the “failure” to follow rules or routines.

“My male patients with anorexia nervosa, for instance, are often going to the gym compulsively and eating a very restrictive diet,” Equip VP of Medical Affairs Dr. Katherine Hill explained. “…sometimes using muscle-building supplements or steroids.”

This trend can also be seen among MAST Academy students.

In a survey of 124 students at MAST, 67 percent of males said they have felt insecure in their body.

Of the male students that felt insecure, 92 percent have tried to change their diets for aesthetic purposes. This includes either reducing or increasing calorie intake, limiting macronutrients such as carbohydrates or fats, or prioritizing macronutrients like protein. 72 percent have tried to exercise for aesthetic purposes, this included lifting weights to build muscle and cardiovascular exercise to lose fat.

“We used to think that about 10% of those with anorexia nervosa were male,” Hill said. “But now we know it’s more like 25% or even a third, and potentially even higher when taking into account how often the diagnosis is missed in males.”

Men are largely underrepresented in the eating disorder community. This is because while the signs of eating disorders among men are obvious, they aren’t associated as disordered eating behaviors since they differ from the signs usually shown by women.

According to research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 123rd Annual Convention in 2015, more and more men are using supplements to the extent that it ‘may qualify as an emerging eating disorder’.

Disordered eating among men hides in plain sight. Strict, compulsive ‘bulking’ and ‘cutting’ diets in order to achieve a lean, muscular physique are clear disordered eating fads encouraged by the public.

On TikTok and Instagram many content creators base their platforms on promote supplement use and dieting and exercise advice.

The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness Helpline offers support for individuals dealing with eating disorders and the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders (ANAD) provides support and resources to individuals and families affected by eating disorders.

 

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About the Contributor
Kamilah Gurdián
Kamilah Gurdián, Editor in Chief
Kamilah Gurdián is a senior at MAST Academy. As of 2023, she is starting her third year as a student at MAST at the age of 17. She used to attend iPrep Academy North during her freshmen year, but wanted to attend MAST since she was in Grade 5. Along with her, her younger brother who’s in Grade 7 attends MAST as well. She a first-generation immigrant in America and her mom is from Colombia and her dad is from Nicaragua. She is interested in math as a future career and takes multiple math classes.
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