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Eating disorder focus put on male sufferers

A SERIES of events to raise awareness of eating disorders will highlight the problem among men.

The issue will be raised during the first Eating Disorders Awareness Week, organised by Aberdeenshire West MSP Dennis Robertson.

Mr Robertson has campaigned to improve understanding of anorexia and bulimia since his daughter Caroline lost her five-year battle with anorexia in 2011, aged 19.

A conference due to be held at the Scottish Parlia-ment on February 28 will examine the role of the media and fashion industries in eating disorders, as well as shedding light on the challenges faced by men who fall victim.

Paul Donald, 23, who set up charity Men and Boys Eating and Exercise Disorders Service will be among the speakers.

Mr Donald began developing anorexia when he was 17 and says the health service has marginalised male victims.

He said: "It took me three years to get help. I was turned away because I wasn't female, they didn't know what to do with me. Another man I know was told by his GP to go to McDonald's and eat a burger. It's a disgrace."

Mr Donald said that male eating disorders were confused with men obsessively working out in an effort to "bulk up", when in fact men are increasingly feeling under pressure to slim down into slim-fit shirts and trousers.

Boys are most likely to develop eating disorders at 13, compared to 15 among girls, but he added that there were a lot of men aged 43-67 who were reluctant to seek help for eating disorders which may have begun decades ago.

He said: "One client, a 43-year-old man, spends four hours in the supermarket every day analysing the ingredients. He's cut out sugar, he's cut out fat. It's taken over his life."

Eating Disorders Awareness Week will run from February 24-28.

Mr Robertson said: "We want to continue raising awareness and improving the support that's available, especially around mental health."

Contextual targeting label: 
Food and drink

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