‘Manorexia’: Family tells of father’s potentially deadly wish to be thin

mans torso with arms crossed in front image

The report found one in 10 anorexia sufferers were men or boys

Anorexia is a health condition we often think only affects young women.

But a new report by The Butterfly Foundation revealed more than 500 males died as a result of eating disorders in Australia last year.

According to the National Eating Disorders Collaboration Report, male body dissatisfaction has increased, with one in 10 of those diagnosed with anorexia nervosa identified as boys or men.

Anorexia nervosa now has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness

Tim* is a 47-year-old West Australian mine worker living with anorexia and bulimia.

His condition began after he underwent gastric band surgery in 2009 to help him lose weight, but instead of helping him, it triggered his six-year battle with the eating disorders.

His daughter, Emma*, spoke out about the devastating effect anorexia has had on her father.

“The band helped him lose a lot of weight, but one of the side effects is if you eat too much you start to vomit because your stomach can’t physically hold anymore, ” she said.

“I don’t think he adjusted to it well because he’s just stuck with the vomiting ever since.

“He used to weigh well into the hundreds [kilos], but now he’s down to around the 60s or 70s.

“He’s literally skin and bones and it worries me because I don’t think he’s going to be around when I have kids.”

Emma said the vomiting was constant and, at times, unbearable to be around.

“He doesn’t shut the bathroom door and because he’s forcing himself to vomit, the vomiting is so loud,” she said.

“I used to worry that the neighbours could hear him.

“He still thinks he’s overweight. He was tormented by his family for being an overweight kid, so I think every time he looks in the mirror he still see the fat kid.

“If someone was to tell me that in the future your dad’s going to be bulimic, I would never have believed them because he was a guy who was really into health and sports.”

An estimated nine per cent of Australians are struggling with eating disorders and the report suggested up to a quarter of people suffering with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa were men.

Most of the common risk factors that apply to women with eating disorders are the same for men.

But different cultural influences, such as body shape and control over body image, increase men’s vulnerability to developing an eating disorder.

Although eating disorders can develop at any age, males are more prone to developing anorexia in their late teens or early 20s.

Jessica Smith is a former Paralympian and eating disorder advocate for The Butterfly Foundation.

She struggled with anorexia and bulimia for more than a decade and now uses her experience to help raise awareness and support for others.

She said society often didn’t realise the seriousness of eating disorders and the impact it had on individuals.

“We are seeing new diets and weight loss programs all the time and sometimes the severity of these disorders can be limited by the hype of the media,” Jessica said.

“People need to know that they’re not alone and there are organisations that provide services to help them.

“It’s important to tell someone that you trust and stand up for yourself because there are people who will listen.”

Emma believed her father’s illness was influenced by the high expectations women place on men.

“What women don’t realise is we have a huge expectation on males. We expect them to look like Channing Tatum when they take their shirts off,” she said.

“Also, with the new gym junkie trend, you aren’t going to see the guys who are struggling with body images because they can just hide behind the whole image of ‘I’m a man I go to the gym’.

“Dad’s never spoken to us about it and it’s just something that no one talks about. I feel there are a lot of guys who struggle with eating disorders but just aren’t open to talk about it.”

If you or anyone you know is struggling with negative body images or eating disorders please call the National Eating Disorders Help Line on 1800 33 4673 or visit

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of individuals.


Henry Sapiecha

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply