Do Sports Nutrition Companies Prey On Mental Illness? - AnabolicMinds.com
    • Do Sports Nutrition Companies Prey On Mental Illness?



      By Hank Schultz NutraIngredients USA

      To what degree are some sports nutrition products feeding consumers’ potentially harmful views of themselves? A talk on muscle dysmorphia disorder at a recent dietitians’ meeting gave serious cause to wonder.

      Los Angeles-based dietitian David A Wiss outlined the parameters of the disorder at the recent SCAN meeting in Huron Ohio. The group is the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition subset of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The meeting, which concluded Sunday, is the 30th annual gathering of the group.

      Flip side of anorexia coin

      Wiss outlined muscle dysmorphia as a disorder in which the afflicted individual believes that they are insufficiently muscular and will do almost anything to find time to work out to build more muscle mass. It is a form of obsessive/compulsive disorder that is somewhat akin to anorexia. The anorexic, who might be already in a state of extreme emaciation, looks in the mirror and sees a fat person. The muscle dysmorphia sufferer, who might already have exaggerated musculature, sees a 90-lb weakling.

      “22% of males with muscle dysmorhpia formerly met criteria for anorexia. They have replaced an earlier preoccupation with being too fat with a new one of being too small,” Wiss said.

      Among the warning signs of the disorder are eating in private, extreme sensitivity to comments about body weight, excessive checking of body parts, such as running a measuring tape around the biceps multiple times a day. Sufferers also tend to have negative associations with certain body parts, such as obsessing about calves that are deemed too small.

      Muscle dysmorphia sufferers will also commonly pursue their obsession to the detriment of family or social relationships, Wiss said. The perception of muscularity becomes their prime good, to the detriment of most other parts of their life. It is this dysfunctional imbalance that helps a nutritionist (or a psychiatrist) differentiate between a driven athlete and a disordered one.

      “I really think these issues are highly under-addressed,” Wiss said. “The fitness industry can play a large role in projecting images supporting the cycle of body dissatisfaction. The idea is that males should only have one body type.”

      Unrealistic images

      And indeed the marketing of many (if not most) protein and pre-workout products features images of professional body builders. These strength athletes are paid to work out multiple hours a week without for the most part having to balance the demands of full-time non-sports lives. They support extreme muscle growth through active steroid use, and are usually photographed in their competition phase, in which they have stripped as much subcutaneous fat and excess water out of their systems as humanly possible. Trying to look like them is as realistic for the average gym rat as it is for the average cycling enthusiast to be as lean as Tour de France riders who ride 20,000 miles a year and are pictured in the middle of one of the world’s most demanding endurance athletic events.

      But that doesn't stop body dysmorphia sufferers from trying, Wiss said. In his view, the marketers of many sports nutrition products are feeding on this affliction.

      “It’s a huge industry and the goal is to make money. The fitness industry relies on unrealistic images to engender insecurity in its customer base,” he said.

      Drug abuse

      The risk doesn't extend to merely ending up with a gym rat who has no close relationships. Without treatment many body dysmorphia sufferers progress from injecting steroids to injecting other things.

      “35% of male steroid abusers meet lifetime criteria for substance abuse disorder,” Wiss said. “You’ve already got a population that’s needle-friendly. They’ve gone from steroids to heroin.”

      Wiss said counseling these clients involves trying to reorder their thinking about exercise and the goals of exercise. The mindset promulgated by the marketers of ‘extreme’ products doesn’t help.

      “I try to get people excited about a new way of life, to shift their focus from extreme muscle mass toward sustainable fitness. I increase the levels of plant-based antioxidants in their diet, I decrease proteins and reintroduce fiber-rich foods. It’s not education, it’s re-education,” he said.

      Source: http://mobile.nutraingredients-usa.c...y#.U7l28fldVrM
      Comments 7 Comments
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        There is alot on here that COULD be true, but there is also alot missing here. If he keeps pressing this matter, liberals will come in and kill the sport of bodybuilding.

        Another doctor coined that term "bigorexia". I find it entertaining that shrinks are now after men who enjoy packing on muscle. Its fun. Its masculine. Its in many ways far healthier than most other lifestyles, even amidst "substance abuse" lol. So yes, we're simply focused, no more or less than any other type of athlete, on making progress in our hobby/sport.

        Its funny. We can be obsessive about OTHER athletes like soccer players, basketball, football and baseball players but NOT actually focusing that attention on ourselves to better our bodies, lol... this gets coined as a psychiatric problem.

        Hypocrits. I feel there may be an ulterior motive from this guy.
      1. compudog's Avatar
        compudog -
        I stopped reading at 'heroin'. I mean, really? That's insane. Most body builders are super health conscious, I can't realistically see any gym rat types making the leap from hormones to heroin. That's just pandering to the audience bias.

        Which is the whole problem with this article. Your 'average person' gets 0 exercise, which is in itself a dangerous and unbalanced lifestyle. People know this, they're aware of it individually, on a personal, intimate level, because it's something one can feel. However, since it's the norm, it's difficult to behave differently. So those of us who do are the target of a lot of repressed hostility. It's a complex mix of admiration, jealousy, and peer pressure to conform and become fat and lazy like everyone else. So we're obsessive and compulsive so on.

        Does anyone actually measure their bicep several times a day? Sounds fantastic (as in "a fantasy") I check my lower back pretty frequently, but I'm not using a measuring tape, lol.
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        Originally Posted by compudog View Post
        I stopped reading at 'heroin'. I mean, really? That's insane. Most body builders are super health conscious, I can't realistically see any gym rat types making the leap from hormones to heroin. That's just pandering to the audience bias.

        Which is the whole problem with this article. Your 'average person' gets 0 exercise, which is in itself a dangerous and unbalanced lifestyle. People know this, they're aware of it individually, on a personal, intimate level, because it's something one can feel. However, since it's the norm, it's difficult to behave differently. So those of us who do are the target of a lot of repressed hostility. It's a complex mix of admiration, jealousy, and peer pressure to conform and become fat and lazy like everyone else. So we're obsessive and compulsive so on.

        Does anyone actually measure their bicep several times a day? Sounds fantastic (as in "a fantasy") I check my lower back pretty frequently, but I'm not using a measuring tape, lol.
        I check waist measurements, but for the purpose of observing water retention after meals. This is purely in effort to plan pre-comp dieting.

        Ur second paragraph hits the nail on the head I think..
      1. Type O Hero's Avatar
        Type O Hero -
        The logic behind this argument is stupid.
      1. Johnston's Avatar
        Johnston -
        Put it this way, and I'm sure this statement would be echoed by most of the people on this forum, so preaching to the converted, but anyway... when I step in to your average restaurant, supermarket, hell just walking down the street, and see myself surrounded by throngs of metabolically damaged fools on a fast track to diabetes and god knows how many other serious health conditions; there is nothing this guy or anyone else could ever say to me that would convince me that THEY weren't the ones with the problem, not ME!
      1. scherbs's Avatar
        scherbs -
        At the risk of getting flamed, I have to offer at least SOME support for the author.
        His rhetoric is horrible, but his overall point isn't wrong--body dysmorphia does exist in the bodybuilding world.
        I am a recovered anorexic, and I see disordered thinking and obsessive thinking in the gym and on the message boards sometimes.
        In no way is it fair to say that people concerned about their physique are mentally disordered, but there are individuals who are unhealthfully engaged in bodybuilding. To the extent that supplement companies cater to individuals like this, then I suppose they are profiting off of mental disorder--but by that degree, running shoe manufacturers profit off of people 'addicted' to running.
        At the end of the day, people working out and caring about how they look don't have a problem. You have a problem when you are so obsessed with working out and how you look that it negatively impacts your ability to engage in a normal and productive life.
      1. compudog's Avatar
        compudog -
        Originally Posted by scherbs View Post
        At the risk of getting flamed, I have to offer at least SOME support for the author.
        His rhetoric is horrible, but his overall point isn't wrong--body dysmorphia does exist in the bodybuilding world.
        I am a recovered anorexic, and I see disordered thinking and obsessive thinking in the gym and on the message boards sometimes.
        In no way is it fair to say that people concerned about their physique are mentally disordered, but there are individuals who are unhealthfully engaged in bodybuilding. To the extent that supplement companies cater to individuals like this, then I suppose they are profiting off of mental disorder--but by that degree, running shoe manufacturers profit off of people 'addicted' to running.
        At the end of the day, people working out and caring about how they look don't have a problem. You have a problem when you are so obsessed with working out and how you look that it negatively impacts your ability to engage in a normal and productive life.
        I agree with what you wrote, but I think it bears a bit closer look. I think there's no doubt that there are some people who suffer mental health problems associated with bodybuilding (body dysmorphia).

        However the question is, do those individuals represent the majority of the bodybuilding community? It's an important question w.r.t. supplement manufacturers, because the supplement guys are going to be interested in marketing to the largest part of the bodybuilding community, and that's what the article is about.

        Clearly, it's unrealistic to say that the majority of people involved in bodybuilding suffer from body dysmorphia, yet that's essentially what's being claimed by this article. Honestly it seems really unlikely that body dysmorphia sufferers could make up more than a small percentage of bodybuilders, definitely not a large enough group for supplement manufacturers to be concerned with.

        So the author's premise looks mistaken at best, more likely outright fabricated IMO. Not everyone out to make a buck in the fitness industry is entirely ethical that way, surprise surprise.

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