Although the use of food and diet supplements is widely practiced, many individuals may not consider the harmful impact of this behavior. People frequently ignore the fact that supplements, which are not evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), often create side effects such as weight gain related to water retention, muscle cramps, dehydration, heat intolerance, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and diarrhea. In extreme cases, supplements can also cause renal failure. I recently encountered a young man who had to have a kidney transplant because he was overusing creatine and protein supplements. This does not mean that all supplements are bad; however, due to their associated side effects, men should consult with their primary care doctor before taking them.


Just like there’s a stigma associated with women dealing with eating disorders, a stigma — perhaps worse — exists for men. Many men find it particularly difficult to seek help because they feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or ashamed about identifying themselves as having an eating disorder. In a society where men are always expected to be strong, they may feel weak for admitting that they have the disease, which may preclude them from seeking help.

The medical and psychiatric community also plays a role in this. Nationwide there are very few programs that specialize in helping males address unhealthy eating behaviors or body dissatisfaction. Although the majority of the patients admitted to The Menninger Clinic with eating disorders are female, we have even seen an increase in males in our program.

In order for more males to feel comfortable with seeking treatment, they have to have greater access to programs that are prepared and willing to treat men with eating disorders while recognizing that the way the disease affects them may be different from how it affects women.

It is important that physicians, psychiatrists, and the society as a whole recognizes that, like cancer or other ailments, men and women alike are at risk for eating disorders. We must continue to improve our understanding of factors that impact the development and maintenance of eating disorders and body dissatisfaction for males while also increasing support and treatment options for these often silent victims.