We’re absolutely honored to have men join the discussion during Binge Eating Disorder (BED) Week! We’re fortunate to have Casey Martin, M.S, NCC in our arsenal of tools and information to shed light on an eating disorder that has not been given proper research until recently. As the program coordinator for the Eating Disorder Center of Denver’s Binge Eating Disorder treatment program, Casey has presented at the Binge Eating Disorder Association’s national conference for the past two years on the topics of developing a BED treatment program, BED and men, and eating disorder utilization review. In this post, Casey talks about the ways Binge Eating Disorder affects men differently than women and what needs to happen within the eating disorder treatment community to make the inclusion of BED into the DSM-5 successful. Enjoy the article and if you are interested in following along with BED Week, you can join the event on facebook or follow it on twitter by using the hashtags #BEDWEEK, #DSM5, #BEDAWARENESS, #EATINGDISORDER and #ED. We will also be taking questions (option to remain anonymous) at the email address BEDWEEKQUESTIONS@gmail.com for our live tweetchat on May 29th at 12-1:00 pm (EST)! Once viewed only as a woman’s problem, eating disorders are quickly becoming more gender neutral. With the inclusion of Binge Eating Disorder (BED) in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), for the first time men are as likely as women to fit criteria for an eating disorder. To a population and culture that has been largely ignorant to BED’s prevalence and presentation, its newfound diagnostic recognition may be misunderstood. For instance, BED is characterized by more than eating cake to the point of feeling sick, and it manifests in ways other than obesity. This is a pervasive psychological and behavioral problem that is expressed through one’s relationship with food. Unfortunately, since women are so synonymous with eating disorders, not as much attention has been given to men. The only thing more underrepresented than a male therapist at an eating disorder treatment center is the male patient, and I believe this has ramifications that extend beyond my own desire to have more male co-workers. From a macro perspective, we know that men have different biological, psychological, and social considerations than women (Bunnell, 2010), but we know very little about how these differences impact men that struggle with eating disorders. So far, we are seeing evidence that men have less desire to be viewed as “skinny” and more desire to be viewed as “lean.” We are also learning that it is more difficult for a man to make the distinction between overeating and binge eating. However, it would be a stretch to claim that there are many other differences that have been identified. Developmentally, we are discovering that men and women have a similar experience of their BED symptoms. There has not been a significant gender difference found between the age of onset, age of first diet, the age one first identifies as overweight, and the reported number of 20 pound weight fluctuations (Barry et al., 2002). There is also little difference in self-report measures of bingeing frequency, eating concerns, and weight concerns. Also, from a demographic perspective, any conclusions about the role of ethnicity are premature (Striegel-Moore & Franko, 2003). The most recent gathering of Binge Eating Disorder researchers and treatment professionals did provide some interesting findings. Current indicators suggest a heritability rate of BED is approximately 50%. Also, when obese adults without BED are compared to those that suffer from BED, the obese with BED are more likely to report a lower quality of life in regards to their physical health and mobility, their emotional well being, and their work, sex life, and self-esteem. They were also more likely to have impaired social and domestic functioning as well as higher levels of disability and health problems (Tanofsky-Kraff et al., 2013). So, now what do we do with all this? I think we have to be patient. With the inclusion of BED in the DSM-5, more people than ever before will identify with these symptoms and want to seek treatment. Before we jump to any new conclusions or the next fad therapy, we have to figure out a way to provide effective education and treatment in a cost effective manner to people that are currently struggling. This will involve proper dissemination of information regarding evidence-based treatments as well as supports to people you think may be struggling. There is still much to be learned and much to be done, but at least people that struggle with BED have a voice, regardless of its gender. Resources Barry, D. T., Grilo, C. M., & Masheb, R. M. (2002). Gender differences in patients with binge eating disorder. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 31, 63-70. Bunnell, D. W. (2010). Men with Eating Disorders. In Maine, M., McGilley, B. H., & Bunnell, D. (Eds.), Treatment of Eating Disorders (pp. 301-316). Burlington, MA: Academic Press. Striegel-Moore, R. H. & Franko, D. L. (2003). Epidemiology of binge eating disorder. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 34, 19-29. Tanofsky-Kraff, M., Bulik, C. M., Marcus, M. D., Striegel, R. H., Wilfley, D. E., Wonderlich, S. A., & Hudson, J. I. (2013). Binge eating disorder: The next generation of research. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 46, 193-207. Casey Martin, M.S., NCC, is the program coordinator for the Eating Disorder Center of Denver’s Binge Eating Disorder treatment program. Under the supervision of Tamara Pryor, Ph.D., FAED, they have developed and implemented a 10-week BED treatment program that has received national recognition. Casey has presented at the Binge Eating Disorder Association’s national conference for the past two years. He has also presented at the National Eating Disorder Association’s national conference in 2012. His presentation topics have included: developing a BED treatment program, BED and men, and eating disorder utilization review. Casey volunteers with the Children’s Hospital of Denver’s Developmental Brain Research lab as a research assistant to Guido Frank, MD, and he volunteers for the Eating Disorder Foundation, a nonprofit eating disorder support organization in Denver, CO. He is also a member of the Academy for Eating Disorders.