Scientists have warned of an alarming new obsession with body image among men. Earlier this year, experts revealed that ‘manorexia’ cases were increasing rapidly, with the number of men admitted to hospital for anorexia nervosa up by 66 per cent in the past decade. One in five eating disorders dealt with by the NHS are now also male.
However, there is now a fresh worry that many men are becoming obsessed with their body image and going to drastic measures to slim down while bulking up their muscles to extreme levels. Dubbed bigorexia, it can pose huge health risks, with many sufferers taking steroids and illegal supplements in order to achieve what they deem to be the perfect body. Dr Stevie Stanford, co-author of a study into men and eating disorders, told the Daily Star that the clinic term is muscle dysmorphia, which is the opposite of anorexia. “Males look in the mirror and, rather than see what they actually look like, they see themselves as skinny, scrawny and not as ripped as they would like. “They then put everything into exercising and dieting until they get what they feel is an Adonis-like physique. But it never stops,” she explained. The doctor claimed that the increase in numbers of bigorexia cases is directly influenced by celebrities, and often unrealistic images of men shown in the media. “We are in a world which is more aesthetic. It is constantly shoved down men’s throats what it means to be powerful and masculine,” Dr Stanford said. Many men are obsessed with the pursuit of the ‘perfect’ body, as they wish to look like the models, sportsman, singers and actors they see all around them. “It puts real pressure on them,” she went on to add. Within the study, it was found that one in four men have some kind of eating disorder, with an unhealthy relationship between food and their bodies. Dr Stanford described the perceptions of what it means to be ‘manly’, claiming that the media over the past 20 years has become far more obsessed with masculine body image, which is therefore being transferred onto the everyday man. But it’s not just a person’s mental health which can be affected by eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating and now bigorexia. In fact, sufferers of the latter, who are gym addicts, can go on to have long-term health problems as a direct result of their workouts and diets. “The long-term effects of bigorexia are injuries, vitamin deficiencies and increased hepatitis risks, liver failure and diseases that go along with steroid use,” Dr Stanford explained. She went on to discuss the dangers of taking supplements, drugs and injections to help bulk up, adding “our research showed that more than 50 per cent of men with muscle dysmorphia have a history of steroid abuse”. This can largely be through over-use or taking steroids which have not been through regulated tests, meaning the short and long-term side-effects are unknown.