In their pursuit of the perfect physique, men have begun overusing bodybuilding supplements. But scientists fear that the increase in men who decide to replace meals with bodybuilding supplements may herald the next big eating disorder.
Scientists incriminate everything from protein bars, protein powders and performance-enhancing drugs and note that men have also begun internalizing body dissatisfaction.
The research team led by California School of Professional Psychology’s Richard Achiro, PhD., explains that modern men are relying more and more on performance- and appearance-enhancing supplements as a result of media-driven masculine perfection ideals.
Despite the fact that you would expect women to be body-conscious, recent studies show that men are just as likely to suffer from psychological turmoil as a result of their dissatisfaction with their appearance.
“Body-conscious men […] use these supplements and drugs in a manner that is excessive and which was demonstrated in this study to be a variant of disordered eating,” Achiro said.
Nevertheless, the issue of eating disorders and masculine body image ideals aren’t being properly addressed in eating disorder research. Such studies often focus on one’s drive for thinness rather than becoming lean and muscular, Achiro added.
The research team lead by Achiro examined the habits of 195 men aged 18 to 65 who had admitted to having used fitness supplements such as creatine, protein powders or L-carnitine in the past month. Additionally, the study participants also exercised at least twice a week.
With the help of a survey, researchers attempted to understand the eating and workout habits of each participant, their views on body image, self-esteem as well as gender role irregularities.
The study’s findings concluded that approximately 40 percent of participants had increased their use of appearance- and performance-enhancing supplements over time. What’s more, over a fifth of participants admitted that they had replaced at least one meal with fitness supplements.
Dr. Achiro and his team also aimed to understand whether study participants had received medical recommendations to reduce their use of performance-enhancing supplements and concluded that 8 percent of participants had. Three percent of study participants had even been hospitalized as a result of their supplement use and experienced liver and kidney issues.
What Dr. Achiro and his collaborators note is that the prevalence of such performance-enhancing supplements has increased significantly. With this increase, health professionals should also begin assessing the psychological threats that men face.
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