We all think that it’s only women who have body image issues. And it is true that women have a lot more body-related self-esteem issues as men, in my opinion it’s mostly because traditional patriarchal systems associate feminine value with looks and masculine value with status and financial capability.
That being said, men are also increasingly being influenced and pressured to take care of their looks, as women have, rightly and deservedly so, progressed to the point that they have been achieving status and financial prowess, and can therefore put pressure on men to “keep up” in the department of looks. The western world is indeed the matrix! But anyway let’s get back on topic, as this is a fitness and health blog, not an anthropology or sociology forum.
Unsurprisingly then, the past few decades have seen the marketing world also targeting the male market in an attempt to get them to feel insecure and buy their products, ultimately resulting in a huge profit margin. In fact, recent research has revealed that men’s usage of workout supplements such as protein bars, whey and creatine protein, as well as other supplements, have been on the rise. In fact, the survey even found that one in five men had, at some point, replaced a regular meal with a supplement that was not even meant to be a meal replacement!
According to the study, a little less than ten percent of men who identified as regular gym-goers had been told by physicians to stop eating supplements because they had been overdoing it. To make matters worse, about three percent surveyed had reported being hospitalised for supplement-related liver or kidney problems. This might not be alarming figures, but don’t forget that in such surveys, it is common for people to under-report such things, so the real statistic might be higher.
In light of these presentations, we can conclude that men are increasingly suffering from this kind of eating disorder. But what is causing it? The answer is simple – the increasing sexualisation of men in the media. The marketers have done it for women, now they are doing it to the men. I mean, look at the male role-models like Zac Efron and Ryan Reynolds. They are toned and muscular, and have a horde of attractive young women lusting over them. No surprises there right?
Back to the research, it was found that body dissatisfaction was the top predictor of overuse of workout supplements, as one would expect. However, psychologists have taken this a step further and mentioned that it was intertwined with other issues such as low self-esteem and an “underlying insecurity with one’s own sense of masculinity”.
Truth be told, there is nothing wrong with using supplements. Some of them are good. Personally, I use supplements myself, but not “gym related supplements”. The ones I use are for vegetarians, whose diets might need to be fortified from time to time. The problem only emerges when supplements are overused, as it puts added strain to one’s kidneys and livers.
So, the next time you go to the gym, just think about the stats as you look at the hard-bodied men grunting, sweating excessively, and pushing themselves to the max. If they look huge and beefed up, they might actually be suffering from the disorder that is mentioned in this article. It’s a sad reality, but it is a reality nonetheless wherever there is money to be made.
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Mark is an all-rounded guy with dreams, aspirations, and a desire to be a better version of himself. Having conquered obesity, he set-up Granite Fitness to help regular people get in shape and stay healthy. Mark spends his days helping distressed Uni students through difficult situations. He holds three science degrees and a Diploma of Christian counselling. In his spare time, Mark does freelancing and runs a series of online operations with his business partner Atanas. Connect with Mark @ http://au.linkedin.com/in/marksptan