Concerns for building muscle can lead to unforeseen body image issues in young men.
According to an 11-year survey research project conducted by JAMA Pediatrics and published this month, an increased amount of young men suffer from body image issues and eating disorders. Adolescent boys and young males who focus on muscular development and use unhealthy substances to improve their physique are at a higher risk of weight-related disorders,
Roberta Seldman, a UF assistant clinical professor and psychologist, said discussion of body image among men has been a taboo topic in the past.
“There is pressure within our society for males to be muscle-bound and physically fit with ripped abs,” said Seldman, coordinator of UF’s eating disorders program.
She said the media casts images of the perfect physical man rather than focusing on deeper relationships and connections.
Weight-related disorders are less likely to be identified in men, according to the study, because society is more conditioned to associate the disorders with women.
Ashley Pleie, a 21-year-old UF nursing senior and personal trainer at Southwest Recreation Center, said her male clients often suffer from body image issues and seek her help. Pleie said most of her clients’ body issues stem from childhood.
“They used to get bullied for being heavier in school or want to reach the fitness level they were at when in high school,” she said.
Michael Fleurinvil, 19-year-old UF finance sophomore, said he sometimes feels pressured to be physically fit like the images portrayed on television.
“When you constantly see lean, fit, athletic men on TV, you consider that the norm,” he said.
Fleurinvil said advertisements often show the fit guy getting the girl, and it makes young men feel like they have to be of a certain physical stature in order to get girls.
“I’ve gotten to the point where it’s more of a lifestyle change,” he said. “I focus on eating healthier and working out, rather than being a certain weight.”
A version of this story ran on page 4 on 11/12/2013 under the headline "Muscle-building men concerned about body image, study shows"