Their Secret Pain

Their Secret Pain

Anorexia is not just a women’s disease, but the men who suffer from it are loath to seek help.

BY JAMES A. FUSSELL
The Kansas City Star

By all accounts Jon Sestak had it all. The high school student had a near-perfect body and dated the homecoming queen. A soccer captain who also ran track, he could bench 225 pounds, got A’s in the classroom and had loving, supportive parents in his Lake Quivira home.

Everything was perfect — until he be- gan to exercise obsessively and lost so much weight his family feared he’d die.

The diagnosis in the spring of 2011 puzzled Jon and his parents.

Anorexia nervosa? Wasn’t that something women got?

Yes, his doctor said. But he had it, too. For years eating disorder experts said only 10 to 15 percent of people with anorexia were male. But new research, noting that many men do not report their conditions, suggests the number actually may be 30 percent or higher.

Jon Sestak of Lake Quivira was shedding pounds at an alarming rate but was living in denial until only recently.

Jon Sestak of Lake Quivira was shedding pounds at an alarming rate but was living in denial until only recently.

For Jon the problem started slowly, a few months before his diagnosis. In his senior year at Shawnee Mission Northwest a few juniors began beating his time in the 400-meter run. Jon didn’t like to lose.

“It made me feel inferior,” he said. “I wanted to make myself better.”

If he ate less and trained more, he figured, he could get back on top.

He reduced the fat in his diet and ate smaller portions. Oatmeal over cheeseburgers. Salads instead of pizza.

He began running, swimming and lifting. Harder than he ever had before.
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