Target 11 investigates male eating disorders



PITTSBURGH - While they are typically associated with women, more than one million men battle eating disorders ever day.

At 6 feet 1 inch, Nico Guthrie was once a healthy sized hockey player.

"For my height and my age I should be around 175 pounds, so I am about 30 pounds underweight," he said. "For a while we didn't know what was wrong with me. We just thought that there was an issue with what I have been eating."

For the last few years, the Mt. Lebanon teen has been struggling with his weight.

"Around my sophomore year, Dr. Pletcher said it was an irregularity and I was supposed to be gaining this amount and I was supposed to be here but I was actually at 145 pounds, 150 pound.It was a cause for worry," he told Channel 11's Jennifer Abney.

Dr. Jonathan Pletcher at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh diagnosed Nico with an eating disorder.

"For boys a big problem is that it tends to go longer untreated and unrecognized," he said. "The more malnourished you are, the longer time you have established these patterns and these ways of thinking. It becomes a much more difficult process to rebuild and recover."

Pletcher said boys are not immune to airbrushed magazine covers and the desire to get those perfect six-pack abs. He often sees a connection to success in sports, too.

"If I can get to a certain weight, that will improve my performance. That's something that I've talked to a lot of coaches about," he said.

Pletcher said unexpected transition can be a big trigger point.

Several years ago, Guthrie's family moved to Pittsburgh from the Southwest.

"I was more nervous coming into a unknown school and a unknown place," said Guthrie.

Treatment can be challenging and he knows that firsthand.

"They gave me a recommendation on what to eat, how to eat, and how to deal with it," he explained. "It was up to me to make that changes and I wasn't really ready for it."

Treatment is imperative and can include anything from hospitalization, therapy or medication.