Women have always been the gender associated with anorexia, starting with Richard Morton's description of an anorectic girl in 1691. In the following centuries, the eating disorder was referred to by various authors who observed the disorder primarily in young women (Lange, 2012). Today, not much seems to have changed as statistics clearly show that - although the number of anorectic men is rising - more women than men are affected. However, ...
... eating disorders may be overlooked in some groups, i.e. in boys and men as they might not show the "typical" symptoms. Males are less likely to use purging behaviours (vomiting, using laxatives to control weight). In addition, they don't talk about the desire to be thin but to be fit and healthy - which does not set off the alarm bell that quickly. As a result, they are underdiagnosed, undertreated and misunderstood (Strother et al., 2012). Wooldridge calls men the "forgotten gender" when it comes to eating disorders. Since diagnosis and treatment criteria were developed with girls and women in mind, one of the four features of anorexia nervosa (according to DSM IV) is the absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles - quite a challenge for boys and men and therefore criticised for its gender bias.
"You are not a sketch. Say no to anorexia" is an anti-anorexia campaign that shows typical fashion sketches next to airbrushed models who would be the size the illustrations suggest. (photos via)
Holdcroft, A. (2007) Gender bias in research: how does it affect evidence based medicine? Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 100(2), 2-3
Lange, B. (2012) Untersuchung der Phospholipidderivate N-Acylphosphatideylethanolamin und N-Acylethanolamin sowie der Hormone Leptin und Ghrelin bei gesunden jungen Frauen und jugendlichen Patientinnen mit Anorexia nervosa vor und nach einer Standardmahlzeit. Freiburg: Dissertation
Strother, E., Lemberg, R., Stanford, S. C. & Turberville, D. (2012) Eating Disorders in Men: Underdiagnosed, Undertreated, and Misunderstood. Eating Disorders, 20(5), 346-355 (via)