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Release: June 20, 2000

UI's Andersen co-writes book to help men with conflicts about weight, appearance, food

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Body image dissatisfaction, eating disorders, diet fads and magazines confronting readers with picture-perfect bodies are problems most people associate with women. However, men are increasingly struggling with these issues, while their concerns and problems often go unrecognized or unresolved.

A new book, "Making Weight: Men's Conflicts with Food, Weight, Shape and Appearance," aims to change that by helping men and their families understand and effectively deal with weight and appearance issues. Published by Gürze Books, "Making Weight" is co-written by Arnold Andersen, M.D., University of Iowa professor of psychiatry and director of the UI Eating Disorders Program; Leigh Cohn, an author of many books on eating disorders and self-esteem; and Thomas Holbrook, M.D., a practicing psychiatrist and clinical director of the Eating Disorders Program at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wis.

"One of the main messages in 'Making Weight' is that fat is no longer only a feminist issue," said Andersen, referencing Susie Orbach's book "Fat is a Feminist Issue." "Men's image concerns have been about 10 to 20 years behind those of women. Now, the male body image presented in media is increasingly impossible for men to meet."

Anderson said the new image is based on a much more highly defined and artificial body shape than in the past.

"Men are expected to show masculinity without hugeness," he said, citing pictures of Antonio Sabato. The emphasis on a tall, lean, chiseled physique with huge pecs, washboard abs and well-defined shoulders can also contribute to men using steroids to bulk up.

"Many men are just as dissatisfied as women are with their bodies, but they are dissatisfied in different ways," Andersen said.

The authors hope the book will help men understand their bodies, come to terms with society's requirements for an increasingly defined body, adopt healthier nutrition habits and learn how to be happy with their own bodies.

"Making Weight" explains that, compared to women, men are more likely to use exercise than diet to control their body shape and that at least one in six people with an eating disorder is male. The book also includes a chapter describing Holbrook's own recovery from both compulsive exercise and an eating disorder.

Andersen said there is some overlap between women's and men's eating problems, but men's problems tend to be more associated either with athletics, sexual orientation or their fathers' medical condition. Some men who bulk up using steroids experience body dysmorphia, or reverse anorexia.

He added that clinicians still are not recognizing eating disorders in men, and many programs do not provide support for males. "Making Weight" includes a section on how men's weight and body image problems can be treated, how family members can help, and a resource guide that includes contact information for national organizations, web site addresses and a reading list.

At the UI Eating Disorder Clinic, one of the few clinics nationwide that treats males, a boy or man with a less severe eating problem might need counseling for four to 10 visits. Males with more serious problems might require an intensive day program or in-patient treatment.

"We wrote the book because we were concerned that men need to know more to understand and take care of their bodies," Andersen said. "With an individualized focus on fitness, nutrition and image, men can be happier and healthier."

"Making Weight" is available for $14.95 in bookstores. Gürze Books can be reached at (800) 756-7533 or visit their web site at www.gurze.com.

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