Are workout supplements contributing towards the rise in eating disorders amongst men?

GYMFor decades now, women have struggled with the constant pressure they face to look good and have the perfect figure. With more and more lean, muscular men with perfectly sculpted abs adorning the covers of mens health and fitness magazines, womens glossies and even films like Magic Mike focusing solely on the male body, what was once a predominantly female problem, is now becoming a serious issue amongst men too.

Peter Theodore from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University commented:

We are seeing more and more images of men in skimpy clothing and since this has been happening, more are becoming increasingly body conscious.

Theodore recently co-wrote a paper which looked into whether the use of dietary supplements such as protein powders, creatine and other performance and muscle-enhancing products can contribute to unhealthy habits and even eating disorders in men.

In the study, it was found that amongst the men who work out at least twice a week, more than 40% increased their usage of these products over time and nearly a quarter admitted to sometimes replacing regular meals with supplements.

Nearly 30% of the men who participated in the study said that they are concerned about their use of these products and 8% said that their physician had actually told them to cut back or stop using the supplements altogether due to the side effects.

The factors that are driving the misuse of these supplements were cited as body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem and men believing that theyre not living up to the standards of masculinity which are being set by modern culture.

Theodore further commented that many think that herbal supplements can be used without concern because theyre not drugs. He highlighted that they can be just as dangerous however and stressed that more needs to be done to address this growing problem.

If you think that you or someone you know could be suffering with an eating disorder, please feel free to visit our Eating Disorder Treatment page for more information about the signs, symptoms and treatments available. 

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