Workout Supplements Becoming Eating Disorder?
Instead using anabolic steroids, more body builders and exercise enthusiasts are turning to over-the-counter supplements. And that, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, is becoming a new type of eating disorder.
Researchers gathered 195 men ranging in age between 18 and 65 for the study. All had used either appearance or performance-enhancing supplements in the 30 days prior, and had worked out at least twice a week for fitness or to better their appearance. Supplements taken included whey protein, creatine, or L-carnitine. The participants then took an online survey on subjects including their use, self-esteem, body image, gender roles and eating habits.
The researchers from the California School of Professional Psychology discovered that more than 40 percent of users increased their dose of supplements over time, and 22 replaced regular meals with supplements that weren’t meant to be used in that way. Researchers were also alarmed to find that 29 percent of participants were also concerned about their supplement habits. Doctors had to intervene and advise at least 8 percent of the group to cut back or stop using supplements, and 3 percent had been hospitalized for kidney or liver issues related to their use.
Matching these results against a scale developed by the study’s researchers, the supplement use was shown to correlate ‘significantly’ to behaviors associated with eating disorders, such as eating concern and restrictive eating.
Bodybuilding supplements are increasingly popular, due to stronger marketing efforts targeted at young men. The marketing tends to aim male insecurity and the pressures of male culture related to body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem.