Men Dependent on Supplements Classifies As Eating Disorder

A new study is coming out that says men who are overusing supplements in order to get a leaner body might end up becoming dependent on the products, and the can lead to it being qualified as an eating disorder. The new study was presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.


Researchers said that the media’s objectification of men’s bodies are part of the reason why more men are using supplements. For this study, the researchers focused on the performance-enhancing supplements such as whey protein, creatine, and L-cartinine, since these supplements give the user the exact body type that they have been striving for. That particular body type is balanced, muscular, and low in fat, such as what you see on Ryan Reynolds. The issue is that the marketing efforts are tailored at addressing the underlying insecurities that are associated with masculinity, and these products are called a solution, which then makes the men feel like they are filling a void. While the men look fit and healthy, their bodies are deteriorating because the supplement use could be signaling underlying emotional issues. These supplements can cause excessive diarrhea and the livers and kidneys could begin to give out from having to detoxify the toxins created by the supplements. The men could also be choosing to eat in ways that are compromising their relationships and work life.

For this study, 195 study participants were chosen who were all between 18 and 65, and had an average age of 33. These men worked out at least two times a week, and had also consumed the legal supplements in the past 30 days. The researchers then used a survey online to gather the information about supplement use, self-esteem, body image, eating habits, and the gender role conflicts. The researchers found that 29 percent of the men were concerned with their use of the supplements, but 40 percent of the men had ended up increasing their use of them. The researchers believed this indicates an underlying psychological and emotional issue, which prevented the men from stopping even though they knew that the supplements were dangerous. It is similar to smoking cigarettes in that it’s harmful and we have known that for many years, yet continued use is indicative of a psychological driver to continue the behavior. The participants were also asked about psychological changes, and three percent reported they were hospitalized for liver or kidney problems which were related to supplement use. 8 percent had indicated that their doctor told them to stop or cut back on the supplements out of concern for their overall health.

The researchers say that this is similar to an eating disorder because it can end up causing a need for the supplements, and there is a need to take them at different times of the day. This rigid routine can interfere with the life of a person and make their life more difficult. The researchers say that you can categorize supplement use as an eating disorder because the supplements are becoming a part of the person’s dietary habits. These products are often sold in powders or protein bars, which means it becomes a dietary lifestyle. There is also a positive correlation between the risky use of legal supplements and subscales on the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire, which is an established diagnostic tool for establishing eating disorder behaviors. A lot of the eating disorder research focuses on women and why they are driven to be thin, such as through binging and purging. Research on supplements have only focused on illicit steroid and human-growth hormone use or body builders. The researchers say that society tends to under-pathologize the male population, which is bad because men can also behave in the same self-destructive manner as women, but it does not get the same scrutiny.

When you look at the supplements, you also have to take into account that there is a risk because these supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. This means that not all of the ingredients are listed and a lot of companies have proprietary blends. You are essentially putting something into your body that you are not aware of because it’s not going to be labeled, and this is dangerous. It is almost the same as shooting up heroin, because you don’t know what the product contains and the person supplying it surely is not going to tell you if there is something bad in the formula, such as baby laxatives. The researchers say that the most important part about this study is that it shows that there are psychological issues going on in men that make them feel like they need to look a certain way or workout a certain way to keep up with what they think society wants, and this needs to be talked about openly in society in order to stop men from overusing these supplements.

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Jeanne Rose
Jeanne Rose lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has been a freelance writer since 2010. She took Allied Health in vocational school where she earned her CNA/PCA, and worked in a hospital for 3 years. Jeanne enjoys writing about science, health, politics, business, and other topics as well.


  1. I would expect nothing less from the APA. They have to drum up a new way to increase profits for their paying constituents.