Male eating disorders are on the rise—thanks in part to porn

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Male eating disorders are on the rise — and research indicates it’s linked to porn.

A new paper published in the journal Body Image highlights the link between “problematic” porn use and eating disorder symptoms among young men.

According to the study, authored by Israeli academics Ateret Gewirtz-Meydan and Zohar Spivak-Lavi, the more problematic a man’s relationship with porn tends to be, the more likely he is to be dissatisfied with his body and, ultimately, more vulnerable to developing various eating disorders.

The paper’s Dr. Gewirtz-Meydan told The Post that “problematic porn use refers to a pattern of compulsive and unhealthy engagement with pornography that negatively impacts an individual’s well-being, relationships or daily functioning.”


Man's feet kicked up next to fast food while he's watching porn on TV
A new paper published in the journal Body Image, highlights the link between “problematic” porn use and eating disorder symptoms among young men — as porn usage has also increased.

More often than not, she added, “it is seen as part of compulsive sexual behavior,” a severe impulse control disorder. Problematic porn use, according to the certified sex therapist, “can potentially fuel eating disorders by presenting unrealistic body ideals and by internalization of self-objectification.”

Approximately 6% of porn viewers report problematic use, according to the paper, which also notes that the findings apply to heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual men alike.


Man holding a tape measure around his waist
According to the new research, the more problematic a man’s relationship with porn tends to be, the more likely he is to be dissatisfied with his body.
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Up until recently, many of the papers exploring the connection between problematic porn use and eating disorders have focused on females. However,  this study, was one of the first to show the many ways in which men are affected by the very same issues. 

In the US, it’s important to note, that both eating disorders and body dysmorphia among young men are on the rise — as is the number of young men who watch porn.

Dr. Gewirtz-Meydan believes “men’s experiences with these [medical] conditions have often been overlooked or stigmatized due to cultural stereotypes that portray them as less susceptible to body image concerns or mental health issues more generally”

Moreover, she added, “we also need to be aware of all the emerging challenges and pressures for young men that contribute to the development of body image issues and eating disorders.”

In other words: Men are feeling the pressure to look extremely muscular, and this pressure is starting to take its toll.


Man looking at a laptop while on a bed
Approximately 6% of porn viewers report problematic use, according to the researc.
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And it’s not just men who are feeling the pressure.

Dr. Carlos Chiclana, a man who has studied the connection between excessive porn consumption and body dysmorphia in great detail, told The Post that there is “compelling evidence showing that frequency of pornography exposure is associated with negatively perceived body image and sexual body image; both in heterosexual men and women.”

Overall, he added, “increased exposure to pornographic content is associated with higher levels of negative body dissatisfaction and body surveillance, as well as lower levels of physical self esteem.”

The Post previously reported on how an increasing number of American men are walling themselves off from society.

Many of these isolated men are spending inordinate amounts of time watching pornography (more extreme viewers spend up to 11-12 hours each week consuming graphic content).


Shirtless man and woman kissing
Muscular dudes in porn may be leading to “unrealistic body ideals and … internalization of self-objectification.”
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People with eating disorders are more likely to isolate themselves than those without eating disorders, studies find; the same is true for those suffering from body dysmorphia.

Suicidal ideation and suicide attempts are common in those suffering with body dysmorphia. Studies also show that those with eating disorders are at increased risk of suicide.

Dr. Gewirtz-Meydan believes that viewers must develop critical thinking skills about porn and ask themselves: “Can I stop whenever I want?”

It’s about “being mindful of when I am paying a high price for watching porn, asking how it affects how I think about myself and the relationship with my body,” she said, adding that men must “build resilience to societal pressures to look masculine and, of course, get therapy and support if needed.”

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