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Monday, 30 September, 2002, 23:05 GMT 00:05 UK
Men suffer body image disorders
Men with muscle dysmorphia are dissatisfied with their whole body
Some men become obsessed with building up muscle
Men are increasingly at risk of developing body image disorders as they worry about building muscle, researchers warn.

The condition, called muscle dysmorphia (MD), mainly affects men who are highly muscular, but see themselves as puny.

This leads them to work out more and more in a bid to achieve the size and shape they believe they should be.

They may also be at high risk of using steroids in an attempt to boost their physique.

The syndrome is different to other forms of body dysmorphic disorder, because instead of being highly dissatisfied with a particular part of their body, someone with muscle dysmorphia is unhappy with their whole body.


If more men are taking to the gym in order to increase their musculature, some may be at risk of developing muscle dysmorphia

Dr Precilla Choi, Victoria University
Twenty-four men who regularly trained who had been diagnosed with MD, and 30 who had not, were studied.

All the men, who were from Boston, Massachusetts, US, answered questionnaires about their physical appearance and fitness.

The groups had similar educational qualifications, jobs, build and exercise patterns.

Those with MD considered themselves less physically attractive and less healthy than their peers, a trend which had previously been seen in women.

Appearance was also more important to them than to those in the other group.

Although they were significantly less happy with their whole body, men with MD were particularly unhappy with their lower torso area - buttocks, hips, thighs and legs - their muscle tone and their weight.

Changing culture

The research, led by Dr Precilla Choi of the School of Human Movement, Recreation and Performance, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Writing in the journal, the researchers said: "If more men are taking to the gym in order to increase their musculature, some may be at risk of developing muscle dysmorphia."

They add: "In a changing culture where men's bodies are becoming more visible alongside an increased acceptance of physical exercise as a desirable activity, MD in men may be one negative consequence of physical exercise behaviour, particularly weight training, being motivated primarily by physical appearance.

"How to prevent this and, if it occurs, what to do about it are important questions for both researchers and practitioners."

Dr David Veale, a UK expert in treating body dysmorphic disorder said of muscle dysmorphia: "People are recognising it more.

"It really depends on a person's level of preoccupation as to what handicap it places on your life."

He welcomed the study as providing more information on the subject.

See also:

15 Nov 01 | Health
02 Nov 01 | Health
31 Jan 00 | Medical notes
11 Apr 02 | Health
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