Eating disorders and body image across the lifespan: A focus on boys and men in midlife and beyond

Tiffany A. Brown, Jason M. Lavender*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Although much of the literature on eating disorders and body dissatisfaction among men involves samples in early adulthood, these concerns can affect boys and men across the lifespan. Evidence suggests that socioculturally prescribed body size preferences and body dissatisfaction can emerge even in early childhood, as can eating disturbances of various forms (e.g., loss of control eating, restrictive eating). Adolescence represents a developmental period of elevated risk for the onset and/or exacerbation of body dissatisfaction and eating disorder symptoms. Importantly, given the lean and muscular nature of the sociocultural body ideal for boys and men, maladaptive body- and eating-related attitudes and behaviors may be influenced by pursuit of low body fat/weight loss, increased muscularity/weight gain, or some combination of both. Further, a small but growing body of literature supports that body image and eating concerns continue for men in midlife and beyond. Unique body image concerns in this group may include (perceived) loss of body functionality, loss of muscularity and masculinity, and age-related weight gain. Dieting behaviors and drive for thinness may increase into midlife for men, and andropause may be related to greater levels of disordered eating. While gender differences in disordered eating and eating disorders in adolescence and young adulthood have been well-established, recent research suggests that these gender differences may diminish in midlife. This chapter provides an overview of the nature and prevalence of body dissatisfaction, disordered eating, and eating disorders in boys and older men while also addressing salient developmental considerations across the lifespan.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEating Disorders in Boys and Men
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783030671273
ISBN (Print)9783030671266
StatePublished - 12 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Aging
  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Body image
  • Boy
  • Child
  • Development
  • Disordered eating
  • Eating disorder
  • Eating pathology
  • Lifespan
  • Men
  • Midlife
  • Muscularity
  • Youth


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