A Two-Stage Epidemiological Study of Eating Disorders and Muscle Dysmorphia in Male University Students in Buenos Aires

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Studies using traditional screening instruments tend to report a lower prevalence of eating disorders (EDs) in men than is observed in women. It is therefore unclear whether such instruments are valid for the assessment of ED in males. Lack of a formal diagnostic definition of muscle dysmorphia syndrome (MD) makes it difficult to identify men at risk. The study aimed to assess the prevalence of ED and MD in male university students of Buenos Aires.


A cross-sectional, two-stage, representative survey was of 472 male students from six different schools in Buenos Aires, mostly aged between 18 and 28 years. The first stage involved administration of self-report questionnaires (Eating Attitude Test-26; scores ≥15 indicate “at risk” status). In Stage 2 students at risk of developing EDs were evaluated with a clinical interview, the Eating Disorder Examination (EDE; 12th edition). Two control students were interviewed for every at risk student.


The prevalence of EDs among university male students was 1.9% (n = 9). All participants with an ED presented with illness classified as eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). Using the Drive for Muscularity Scale (DMS) with a 52-point threshold we identified possible MD in 6.99% (n = 33) of the sample.


The prevalence of ED detected in this study is comparable with previous findings in male populations, and below that observed in female populations. However, the prevalence of possible cases of MD resembles the total rate of EDs in women. Characteristics associated with EDs and MD in men are also discussed. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2015; 48:1092–1101).

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