MEN with body image issues are suffering worse psychological problems than women, as a condition called “bigorexia” continues to rise among the male population, a world-first study has found.
“Bigorexia”, or reverse anorexia, is a form of body dysmorphia where a man thinks they are too small and weak, causing them to go to the gym obsessively and even take steroids.
A University of Sydney study looking into the growing issue has found that although a larger number of females are still unhappy with their bodies, men who do have body image issues are suffering more psychologically.
Lead researcher Dr Scott Griffiths said they interviewed 2000 men and women for their project.
More than half of those men reported some kind of body image issue, while 15 per cent had a serious problem that required help, he said.
The number was still lower than women but “higher than expected”.
“The big finding was for the guys who were unhappy, it bothered them more,” he said.
“Based on conventional wisdom we thought men would be a little more unconcerned about it, because pressures are traditionally levied on women, but it was just as hard if not harder.”
He said men were also four times less likely to ask for help due to stigma around being seen as “less masculine” as eating disorders were seen as a traditionally female issue.
Dr Griffiths said the research was significant, because studies to date had mainly focused on adolescent girls and women.
That’s despite extreme dieting and purging being shown to be increasing at a faster rate in men, while steroid use is also on the rise.
Former Bondi resident Clinton Williams, who is body builder, said he took steroids when he was in his 20s because he wanted to bulk up, but hadn’t touched them since.
“I think society puts a lot of pressure on you to look a certain way,” the 43-year-old said.
Beverly Hills body builder Sasho Ognenovski said he had noticed young men were resorting to take steroids because they wanted to get big.
“It is common with the young people, they want to get bigger, especially with social media and stuff these days,” he said.
This article first appeared on ‘Daily Telegraph’ on 4 July 2016.