By Marina Renton
You’ve seen them at the gym: extremely body conscious men, driven to achieve a level of physical perfection through grueling workouts.
Well, new research suggests that overusing popular supplements like whey protein and creatine to improve workout performance may signal an emerging eating disorder.
Researchers presented their findings at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention in Toronto earlier this month.
Almost 200 18- to 65-year-old men who consumed legal appearance- and performance-enhancing drugs (APEDs) and worked out at least twice a week participated in the study, led by co-authors Richard Achiro and Peter Theodore, both from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University, Los Angeles. In addition to asking about their supplement use and eating habits, researchers surveyed the participants about their psychological well-being, asking about their body image, self-esteem and gender role conflicts.
Almost 30 percent of the people surveyed said they were worried about their supplement use. Over 40 percent had increased their supplement intake over time. Twenty-two percent said they consumed the supplements instead of a meal, even when that wasn’t their intended use. Eight percent had been advised by their doctor to curb their use of supplements, and 3 percent had been hospitalized for kidney or liver problems stemming from their supplement intake.