As many as 24 million people in the United States suffer from eating
disorders, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and
Associated Disorders. With sparse literature available about anorexia in
males, the clinical characteristics of this condition are often
overlooked as an underlying cause of other medical issues, says Aren
In a presentation at the American Association of Clinical
Endocrinologists (AACE) 23rd Annual Scientific and Clinical
Congress in Las Vegas, Skolnick presented a study of hospitalized
patients who exhibited multiple systemic complications stemming from
It has been reported that males only make up about 10 percent of the
anorexia population. However, Skolnick estimates that the percentage is
probably as high as 25 percent, due to underreporting and misdiagnosis
of the condition in males. He said that the presentation of anorexia in
men is atypical and that the stigma of the condition as a "female
disorder" makes it more challenging to diagnose in men.
"Talking to the patient and taking a history is the most important
thing. Find out their eating habits, social support, nutrition intake,
etc. That's going to tell you a lot of what you need to know," said
In his case studies, Skolnick said the patients presented with a variety
of non-specific symptoms including abnormal thyroid function and
hypogonadism, among others. Skolnick said that one of the patients had
refused to eat for more than three weeks, while another had been taking
diet pills. A multidisciplinary approach had to be taken in order to
resolve the patient's condition, starting by addressing their starvation.
None of the treatments for the other medical issues, such as
hypothyroidism, would work while the patients were in such a severely
malnourished state. Skolnick said that giving thyroid hormones i these
cases won't make a difference because when the body is in a starvation
state, the conversion of the thyroid hormones won't happen. Once his
patients were treated with nutrition, most of the endocrinopathies
resolved on their own with no additional measures needed.
"This is why it's so important to diagnose this, because all the
treatment they need is safe nutrition. The most important thing to get
out of these cases is to just keep anorexia in the back of your mind,"
said AACE President Jeffrey I. Mechanick, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.E.,
F.A.C.N., E.C.N.U., who is also senior author on this study. "If a
young, malnourished man comes in and there are multiple hormonal
dysfunctions and things aren't fitting together, it should raise a red
flag. Male anorexia is not usually thought of in a hospital setting."
To read additional press releases about the AACE 23nd
Annual Scientific and Clinical Congress in Las Vegas, please visit media.aace.com
or use the Twitter hashtag #AACE14.
For a brief bio and photo of Dr. Skolnick, please click here.
About the American Association of Clinical
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) represents
more than 6,500 endocrinologists in the United States and abroad. AACE
is the largest association of clinical endocrinologists in the world.
The majority of AACE members are certified in endocrinology, diabetes
and metabolism and concentrate on the treatment of patients with
endocrine and metabolic disorders including diabetes, thyroid disorders,
osteoporosis, growth hormone deficiency, cholesterol disorders,
hypertension and obesity. Visit our site at www.aace.com.
About the American College of Endocrinology
The American College of Endocrinology (ACE) is the educational and
scientific arm of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
(AACE). ACE is the leader in advancing the care and prevention of
endocrine and metabolic disorders by providing professional education
and reliable public health information; recognizing excellence in
education, research and service; promoting clinical research and
defining the future of clinical endocrinology. For more information,
please visit www.aace.com/college.
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