This is a season of gustatory excess, when families gather at ample tables, offices hold lavish parties, and people eat and drink till they are beyond sated. Not everyone, though. There is a grimmer corner of America. It is populated by men and, more commonly, women who shun food not because they are too poor to afford it, but because they are too troubled to desire it.
The country’s obesity epidemic deservedly draws constant attention, but many have a diametrically opposite problem: They are obsessively, and perilously, thin. Some experts estimate that 30 million Americans are plagued at some point in their lives by disorders like anorexia nervosa, binge-eating and bulimia. About one-third of them are men, belying broadly held assumptions that this is almost exclusively a female concern. Many are blacks, Latinos and Asians, countering another routine belief that this is a whites-only issue.