Songwriter, singer and actor Ashley Hamilton, son of George Hamilton and Alana Steward, admitted in a People magazine article that he has suffered from an eating disorder for many years. The 38-year-old, who most recently played former military officer “Jack Taggert” in Iron Man 3 told People that the condition began when he was a teenager at Beverly Hills High School, where his nickname was Fatley:
I suffered from bulimia and anorexia. I believe it was my problem before I got into drugs and alcohol. I used the drugs and alcohol to control the food addiction.
The 6-foot-3-inch actor says that his weight has varied between 180 and 250 pounds. He has been clean and sober for six years, but found that he still had the eating disorder to deal with:
I don’t have it perfect now. I’ve been free from bulimia for years but I still struggle with food, restricting or overeating. That’s been the hardest for me in sobriety.
When I speak at meetings I have people come up to me and say I suffer from it, too, but I’m too afraid to talk about it because it’s so painful. It’s almost like drug addiction is totally acceptable to talk about in Hollywood. But food addiction? Nobody wants to talk about that. It’s really shameful as a man to have that.
Like females who have eating disorders, males also have a distorted sense of body image.
For some, their symptoms are similar to those seen in females. Others may have muscle dysmorphia, a type of disorder that is characterized by an extreme concern with becoming more muscular. Unlike girls with eating disorders, who mostly want to lose weight, some boys with muscle dysmorphia see themselves as smaller than they really are and want to gain weight or bulk up.
Men and boys are more likely to use steroids or other dangerous drugs to increase muscle mass.
Although males with eating disorders exhibit the same signs and symptoms as females, they are less likely to be diagnosed with what is often considered a female disorder. More research is needed to understand the unique features of these disorders among males.
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is a leading non-profit organization in the United States advocating on behalf of and supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. They contend that eating disorders in males may well be a silent epidemic and produced this infographic to illustrate some of the factors involved:
Key: AN= Anorexia Nervosa, BN= Bulimia Nervosa, BED= Binge Eating Disorder, EDNOS= Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
For more information about eating disorders, click here to go the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic.