Researchers are suggesting that steroid use is not necessary to be heavily concerned with muscularity and leanness.
According to Timothy Baghurst, a visiting assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Arkansas, there is no difference between bodybuilders who use steroids and those who do not when it comes to characteristics associated with muscle dysmorphia.
AdvertisementMuscle dysmorphia is a disorder in which a person becomes obsessed with the idea that he or she is not muscular enough, usually in bodybuilding.
Daniel Kissinger, an assistant professor of counsellor education, also contributed towards the understanding of mental health elements of the study as a second author of the article.
Kissinger said: "One of the problems associated with classifying muscular dysmorphia is that, while it is receiving increasing attention in the mental health literature, muscle dysmorphia is not recognized by the American Psychological Association as a distinct mental illness."
Baghurst divided bodybuilders into sub-groups of "natural" and "non-natural".
Natural bodybuilding referred to competitions in which partakers were drug-tested, and had to pass a polygraph in relation to their lack of prohibited drug use.
Non-natural bodybuilding referred to those competitions in which participants were not required to pass a polygraph, nor were they drug tested before the to competition.
Baghurst discovered: "By separating natural and non-natural bodybuilders, I found that either group is equally likely to have all of the traits of muscle dysmorphia with the exception of pharmacological use."
He further found the males who were pumping iron to enhance their physique, but were not bodybuilders, also bared few characteristics linked with muscle dysmorphia including dissatisfaction with their size and symmetry.
Baghurst said: "This is an important finding, because it shows that someone doesn't have to be big and buff to have concerns about how muscular they are or how much body fat they have."
The study has been published in the international journal Body Image in June 2009.
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