Body dysmorphic disorder - “Manorexia”, among weight lifters: Study

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As more than a third Australians fight to maintain a normal weight and prevent obesity, a new study has found some are fighting to gain the weight.

More than 10 per cent of weightlifters, in a study conducted by Southern Cross University in northern NSW, believe that they are too small, and may suffer from a psychological disorder known as muscle dysmorphia. Tthe psychological condition has been nicknamed as “reverse anorexia” or “manorexia.” and is usually characterized by sufferers being determined to become more muscular, despite some exhibiting more muscles than the average person.

For the study the team of researchers surveyed 116 weightlifters and found that those likely to exhibit signs of the disorder were young men and those who used supplements.

Lead author, Johanna Nieuwoudt, a PhD candidate with the School of Health and Human Sciences at Southern Cross University, said the condition could be harmful, particularly if it was combined with steroid abuse. She said, “There can be musculo-skeletal injuries and people with the condition are more likely to continue to train when they are injured or ill…Their social life suffers and the quest to get bigger can become obsessive, with their relationship with their body overcoming all else.”

Muscle dysmorphia is yet to be fully accepted by health authorities and Ms Nieuwoudt said there is more research needed into the cause and treatment of the disorder. Nieuwoudt hopes that her research could assist in the correct classification of “muscle dysmorphia” in the next edition of the American Psychiatric Association-published Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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