We’ve all seen them, power-walking through Covent Garden, in their stretchy gym wear, plastic protein shaker clutched firmly in hand like a robotic extension of their limbs. But are these men part of a new wave of eating disorder sweeping the fitness-fanatic and supplement-savvy that are firmly fixed on a fab physique?
Earlier this year, we reported on a rise of Bigorexia; where frequent gym-goers suffer from a type of body dysmorphia that leads them to believe they’re smaller, or less muscular, than they actually are. Now, a new study, as reported by The Standard, suggests that a large number of supplement users exhibit similar behaviour to those with other kinds of eating disorders.
It seems, long gone are the days when eating disorders are limited to starving yourself and throwing up after a Pizza Express. We have evolved. But, on many counts, evolution isn’t always a good thing. Sure, a protein shake here and there never hurt anybody, but what Dr Richard Achiro and Dr Peter Theodore found was that 22% of supplement users had used them as a replacement for meals. They also found a strong correlation between self-esteem, mental state and eating habits with people that have eating disorders.
It doesn’t take a genius to note that compulsive attitudes towards ones body can quite quickly slip out of hand. But, with so many products available and a bigger pressure to be fitter now than ever, it’s becoming increasingly common. I, myself, am currently on a concoction of supplements that would make someone on PEP shudder; you’ve got your protein powder, fat burners, recovery mix, vitality pills, vitamins, and so on. Is it excessive? Of course. But you soon come to realise that very few people have amazing bodies without a little extra push; good DNA alone is not enough. Our bodies are not supposed to look like that of a Greek God, not naturally anyway. Hence, why every Instagram buff is flogging some kind of cheat-yourself-sexy powder, pill or placebo.
Everywhere you look, everybody is getting fit. So are the fitness corporations wrong to prey on those with compulsive tendencies and low self-esteem? Or do they deserve our money (over £5 billion a year, in case you were wondering) for being so shallow and vain?