Recent research shows that binge eating disorder affects men nearly as often as it affects women.
However, according to the Binge Eating Disorder Association, most men won’t admit it or seek treatment for the disease. Men won’t admit to the disease because of the stigma attached to it—that it is a “woman’s disease.”
That trend might be changing, though, because more men are starting to speak up.
After losing all of his money in a game of poker, Andrew Walen says he felt completely out of control, so, he binged.
“I would eat... and eat... and eat,” Walen said. In half an hour, he ate an entire tray of 70 chicken wings.
Kwesi Rollins says when stressed out he, too, found comfort in food- mainly cookies.
“I could eat an entire pack of Oreos in one sitting,” Rollins said. “I think it was my way of numbing out and dealing with uncomfortable feelings and my own inadequacies."
Unlike other eating disorders, 40 percent of the estimated 10 million Americans who binge eat are men, according to the Binge Eating Disorder Association. Most are ashamed of it, do it in secret and never seek help.
Millions of men are sitting behind closed doors and saying "I can't possibly have an eating disorder because this is a woman's disorder."
In the past year, however, more men have reached out for help.
“We've seen about a 20 percent increase in men actually picking up the phone and calling themselves,” said Chevese Turner, the CEO of the Binge Eating Disorder Association.
Currently in therapy, Rollins says he hasn't had a binge session in more than a year. And after getting help, Walen is fully recovered, and is now a therapist helping others with eating disorders. He says the key to changing the stigma is for more men to speak up.
"Binge eating disorder" is expected to be added to the diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders used by clinicians coming out next year—which will likely increase awareness, diagnosis and potentially improve treatment options.