Guys buff up for the wrong reasons – expert

2014-06-05 16:22

Eating disorders are no longer about women who are not satisfied with how their bodies look.

Bigorexia, which is more like a reverse of anorexia, seems to be a growing problem among South African men, according to Dr Linde Viviers, a Johannesburg psychologist specialising in eating disorders.

Men who suffer from this condition believe they are smaller than their actual size and end up abusing steroids, engaging in extreme diets and over-exercising, says Viviers.

There are no official statistics on the incidence of bigorexia in South Africa. However, a study published by a professor of psychology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal showed that a high number of boys were unhappy with their physical appearance.

The study titled Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the buffest of them all? found that 28.5% of boys were unhappy with their overall weight, while 26% were dissatisfied with their abs and 19.5% with their chests.

While there are no official statistics on bigorexia in South Africa, Viviers is convinced that it’s on the rise based on anecdotal evidence from his practice in Randburg.

He explains that people who suffer from bigorexia, “are usually not underweight or frail, they are actually well-built with a perfect physique”.

“But they innately believe their muscles and body are inadequate and begin to adopt the so-called bigorexic behaviour – over-exercising, extreme dieting and the use and abuse of supplements and possibly steroids,” he says.

Steve Mululu, owner of Dream Body Fitness, cautions against taking steroids and over-exercising in a bid to get the “glossy magazine” look.

“Biologically, it is only possible to put on 4kg-5kg of muscle weight each year ... anything above that comes at a risk to your health

“If you manipulate muscle growth unnaturally, your organs can’t keep up with your muscle growth rate – and that’s a recipe for disaster,” Mululu warns.

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