Bodybuilder Supplement Abuse a Growing Concern

Bodybuilder Supplement Abuse a Growing Concern

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 7, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Women striving for the “perfect” body have struggled with eating disorders for years, but researchers report that a new sort of eating disorder is emerging among men.

Fitness buffs who are obsessed with bodybuilding, and the bulging biceps and “six-pack” abs it produces, are overusing supplements to the point that the practice might qualify as a new kind of eating disorder, the researchers said.

A survey found that more than 40 percent of these men indicated that their use of supplements such as whey protein, protein bars, creatine and glutamine had increased over time, said study author Richard Achiro, a Los Angeles psychotherapist.

Further, one of every five men said they replaced regular meals with dietary supplements that are not intended to be meal replacements.

On the more extreme end, 8 percent of the men said their physician told them to cut back or stop using supplements due to an actual or potential effect on their health, and 3 percent had been hospitalized for kidney or liver problems related to the use of these supplements.

The researchers presented their findings Thursday at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting in Toronto. Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“Quite a few men are indeed using these supplements in a way that can adversely affect their physical health,” Achiro said. “Most alarming is that 30 percent of those men have said their own use of these supplements has concerned them.”

Responses to questions from an eating disorder questionnaire indicated that the men are using these supplements for many of the same reasons women turn to bulimia or anorexia, Achiro said.

The male standard of beauty emphasizes big muscles and a lean frame, so it stands to reason that men obsessed with their body image would turn to supplements and exercise rather than fall into an eating disorder that would cause the body to waste away, Achiro said.

“Basically, men have different standards and ideals than women when it comes to their bodies, and it makes sense that an eating disorder would be expressed differently in men than in women,” he said.

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