A growing number of young men in the UK are succumbing to eating disorders, according to figures obtained by The Sun.

Hospital admissions for men who display symptoms of anorexia and bulimia have tripled over the past 10 years, the paper reported.

Figures show that 78 boys under 14 years of age were admitted to hospital with eating disorders in England last year - compared to 24 in 2001.

There were also 39 youths aged 15-18 who were treated in 2011, compared to just 15 in 2001.

A spokeswoman for Beat, an eating disorder charity, told the Daily Mail: "Exercise is a major factor with eating disorders in men in particular. They become obsessed with exercising every single day, if not more, and it can take over their life without them realising there may be a more deep-seated reason behind it.

"That is when it becomes an eating disorder. The pressure these days on guys to have the perfect figure is very similar to that which has and continues to affect women.

"It's all about losing body fat and getting a six-pack, and it comes from the way the male shape is portrayed.

"That perfect figure can be a healthy body image for a man to aspire to; it is when it gets taken to an extreme that we see problems."

She also said that diagnosing these conditions is difficult because men are generally reluctant to talk about their health.

"We need GPs to be much more aware of the fact that males also these days are experiencing problems with eating disorders. They are not as good at recognising the symptoms in men as they should be," she added.

"It can be because men are much more reluctant to talk about these issues or to admit there is a problem.

"There is a stigma about it - it is seen as a teenage girls' disease. But eating disorders are serious psychological conditions which can kill."