Teenage Boys And Their Shocking Eating Disorders: Purging, Eating A Sandwich Every Few Days & Excessive Exercise

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Jun. 14 2013, Published 3:08 p.m. ET

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Anorexia and other eating disorders are most commonly associated with women, but young men are also starving themselves to be thin.

According to a new report from the Los Angeles Times, male high school teenagers in Los Angeles are almost as likely as females to use diet aids, laxatives or vomiting to lose weight. The newspaper spoke with several young men who have suffered from anorexia and other eating disorders, who revealed their painful struggles and the drastic measures they took to lose weight – like eating only one cheese sandwich every few days and working out excessively – and has the details.

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Bryan Piperno, 25, revealed to the newspaper that his eating disorder started when he was just nine-years-old. Growing up in Simi Valley, he threw out his lunches and lied about his eating when he was a kid, and within years, was purging after eating.

When his vomiting landed him in the emergency room during his college years, he lied to keep his secret. Eventually, Piperno dealt with his disorder with “time and care,” even checking into a residential treatment center.

"Men are pressured to have as little fat as possible — but you've got to pretend like you don't watch what you eat," Andrew Shrout, 19, who lost weight because a boy on his water polo team used to “grab his stomach and jiggle it,” revealed about his high school experience in Long Beach.

"I can see why a lot of younger kids get sucked into a vortex and end up doing bad things."

Benjamin O’Keefe, 18, from Florida reveals that he exercised constantly during the peak of his high school eating disorder and ate only a cheese sandwich for days at a time, suffering from massive headaches, incessant sleeping and even fainting onstage during a play rehearsal.

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“People were saying, ‘Wow, you look great,’” he reveals about the reinforcement he got from his peers.

Matthew, 20, who didn’t want to reveal his last name, battled anorexia during his teenage years in Pasadena and claims he started starving himself to “numb out” the alcoholism of his father and stepmother.

"It's not about the body," he revealed. "It's a mental issue — it just manifests itself through the body."

The article maintains, “Boys are starting to face the pressures long placed on girls, as buff, bare men proliferate in pop culture. Boys today watch Channing Tatum strip as Magic Mike or weigh themselves against the muscular Dwayne Johnson. The nonstop chatter of Twitter and Facebook has amplified those messages, therapists say.”

A 2011 study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in conjunction with the Los Angeles Unified School District determined that high school boys in Los Angeles are twice as likely to induce vomiting or use laxatives to control their weight as the national average, with 5.2% of those surveyed saying they had recently done so.

While girls still surpass boys in starving themselves to lose weight also showed that teenage boys in Los Angeles were nearly as likely as girls to purge through vomiting or laxatives as well as use diet pills, powders or liquids without the advice of a doctor — 6.2% said they recently used such substances, compared with 6.1% of girls.

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