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Minerva Psichiatrica 2006 September;47(3):189-98

language: Italian

The “not being” time: male anorexia. A Review

Carta I. 1, Zappa L. E. 2, Carugati C. 3, De Coppi M. 3, Garghentini G. 3

1 Clinica Psichiatrica Dipartimento di Neuroscienze e Tecnologie Biomediche, Facoltà di Medicina, Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Milano
2 Ambulatorio per i Disturbi Alimentari Ospedale San Gerardo Nuovo, Monza, Milano
3 Fondazione “Maria Bianca Corno” per la lotta contro l’anoressia Sede di Monza, Milano


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The overall goal of this study was the collection and the critical view of the literature about anorexia nervosa in males patients and the individuation of specific characteristics that differ by gender. In this article we have led a Medline (Pubmed) about the studies which were published on specialistic journals in the period between 1994 and 2004. The used key-words were: “anorexia nervosa” and “male”; the publication date and the male gender have been set as limits of the research. We have used the following exclusion criteria on the 831 articles founded: female patients, medical and biological aspects linked to eating disorders, AN due to organic pathologies, studies led on animals, researches and reviews on Bulimia Nervosa, BED and EDNOS. The articles overvie-wed were 42. The literature on male AN is very restricted in comparison with the female population one; studies on single cases or on small samples often occure. The percentage of male patients ranges 5% to 20% of AN affected patients; their clinic characteristics are similar to the ones female patients. Studies on bigger samples underline a later onset and first contact with the health services in men than in women. The percentage of premorbid overweight males patients is higher than in the female counterpart. Gender differences have been found in methods to keep the weight under control, men less frequently use laxatives but are more oriented to extreme excercise. There’s not an overall agreement on the sexuality role in the development of Anorexia Nervosa: studies on bigger samples underline the high incidence of male patients that declare theirselves as omosexual or bisexual, also within that group of patients that defines theirselves asexual, confirming researches led in periods before 1994.

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