Male Eating Disorders

“I should have died,” said Vic Avon. “I reached a very dangerously low weight.”

Vic had a deadly disease. And he says the world was a scary place when he was diagnosed with anorexia five years ago.

“I was very resistant to that. I was like how can this be possible, this doesn’t happen to guys,” he said.

But it does. And the National Eating Disorders Association or NEDA says it’s getting worse. A recent study shows that over a 7 year period, there was an 18% increase in hospitalizations for eating disorders.

“Among that increase, 37% of those hospitalized were men,” said Lynn Grefe, President and CEO of NEDA.

The big question is why and how come we aren’t hearing about it?

The pressure to be tough kept Vic quiet for a while.

Grefe says that one of the things fueling that 37% increase, is men who don’t know where go for help.

“Eating disorders are biologically based illnesses,” said Grefe. “People have a variety of characteristics that all come together like a perfect storm.”

“I started to look for other men in my situation and I couldn’t find any. Then I was like wow I must be broken,” said Vic.

But now he is hoping to help other men break their silence too. Sharing his insight with us at NEDA in New York City.

“There is a lot of pressure on guys to act a certain way, look a certain way,” said Vic. “I could never fit that mold.”

“I was heavy growing up, I had a lot of peer bullying, I was bullied for a great period of my life. That contributed to really negative feelings about my body,” said Vic. “I turned to food to comfort myself. It was a vicious cycle, I’d go to the food, eat a lot feel comfort, then it made me heavier and I hated it and hated myself for it.”

His eating disorder began when he started starving his emotions instead.

“I wanted the number to go lower, lower, lower,” he said “I was doing a fade diet, I didn’t research anything.”

He became obsessed with cutting calories while burning as many as he could.

“I pushed through it no matter how hard it was, how badly it hurt,” said Vic.

Everything came to a head when he decided to hospitalize himself.

“They were there to wake me up at 6 am to check my pulse and my blood pressure and make sure I wasn’t passing away,” said Vic.

There, he met other men with eating disorders too. That helped, as he made a commitment to get better.

“I’ve never taken a step backward since leaving the hospital. It’s either taking a step forward or staying where I am,” said Vic.

Siena head trainer Daniel Taylor works to combat eating disorders by educating his athletes about health, not weight or size.

He says the obsession isn’t always about getting smaller. Sometimes it’s all about getting big.

“They see themselves as being smaller when they really are getting bigger and bigger. The problem becomes that they work out too much, they work out too, hard which can cause health problem,” said Taylor.

It’s called body dysmorphia or adonis syndrome. And because it seems like the guy thing to do, NEDA and Taylor say it’s going ignored for too long.

“We’re talking about guys working out so it probably isn’t held the same way in society and it should be,” he said.

Experts say it’s an issue thats only being accelerated by images in the media and advertising that portrays skinny and muscular as the desired body type.

“Young guys they are reading these magazine telling them to do this, this and this and it’s either not real or it’s unattainable,” said Taylor.

Read the full article at Fox23 News.