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More Than 1 in 5 Young Men Use Disordered Eating to Bulk Up

Having a skinny self-image, exercising to gain weight may be risk factors for disordered eating

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THURSDAY, June 27, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Disordered eating to bulk up is common among young men and may be a warning sign of future health problems, according to a study published online June 20 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Jason M. Nagata, M.D., from the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues used data from baseline (11 to 18 years old, 1994 to 1995) and seven-year follow-up (18 to 24 years old, 2001 to 2002) for 14,891 participants of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Muscularity-oriented disordered eating behaviors were defined as eating more or differently to gain weight or bulk up, taking supplements to gain weight or bulk up, or using androgenic anabolic steroids.

The researchers found that 22 percent of men and 5 percent of women reported any muscularity-oriented disordered eating behavior at follow-up in young adulthood. For both sexes, baseline factors that were prospectively associated with higher odds of muscularity-oriented disordered eating included being black, exercising to gain weight, having a self-perception of being underweight, and having a lower body mass index z-score. Among men, higher odds of muscularity-oriented disordered eating in young adulthood were also associated with participation in weightlifting; roller-blading, roller-skating, skateboarding, or bicycling; and alcohol use. Depressive symptoms among women during adolescence were associated with a higher risk for muscularity-oriented disordered eating. Nonheterosexual identity was not a risk factor.

"Future research should examine longitudinal health outcomes associated with muscularity-oriented disordered eating behaviors," conclude the authors.

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