A recent study suggests that the increased use of performance- and appearance enhancing supplements may reflect a new sort of eating disorder among men.
We generally connect the idea of eating disorders with women who strive to become thin, yet recent research has revealed that men may be struggling with body-image and self-esteem. Unlike women, they aim for a muscular physique and in pursuit of their ideal body image, they are likely to overuse bodybuilding supplements.
According to a research team led by dr. Richard Achiro, modern society body ideals have influenced men’s expectations and enforced their insecurities regarding masculinity and appearance. At the same time, the marketing efforts of bodybuilding supplement manufacturers have been specifically tailored to address these insecurities.
Men have begun viewing such products as a solution and often misuse over-the-counter bodybuilding drugs.
Achiro and his team examined 195 study participants who admitted to having consumed performance-enhancing supplements in the 30 years prior to their enrolment in the study. The men, aged 18 to 65, also had regular workout sessions at least twice a week.
With the help of a survey, researchers attempted to gain insight into their supplement use habits, body image, eating habits and self-esteem.
Of the 195 study participants, 29 percent stated that they had concerns regarding their supplement use. Even so, approximately 40% of participants had increased their performance-enhancing supplement use, suggesting that the emotional and psychological issues connected to the ideal body image may be enough to prevent an individual from ceasing behavior they deem dangerous.
“Like an eating disorder, this can become really rigid, a person’s need for these supplements,” dr. Archiro explains.
Researchers went even further and discovered that approximately 8 percent of study participants had received medical recommendations to cease their use of supplements. Moreover, 3 percent of participants had ended up hospitalized as a result of their excessive supplement use, after experiencing kidney or liver issues.
Study authors note that, despite the relatively small number of participants. The trend is alarming. The findings were presented during the annual convention of the American Psychological Association. They reveal that the reasons for which men turn to such supplements are very similar to the reasons why women turn to anorexia or bulimia.
Despite the fact that men and women do not share the same standards and goals, they experience similar symptoms. Achiro explains that it’s only logical that, if suffering from an eating disorder, it would express differently depending on gender.
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