"Gym-goers are increasingly resorting to steroids and prescription drugs to counteract their altered body images," he said. "Sufferers of negative or heightened body image issues will go to extremes to meet their desired goals and doctors need to be more aware of the efforts 'bigorexics' will go to achieve their goals."
"It is virtually the opposite problem of anorexia although it is still a completely abnormal perception of body image. These people look at themselves and see a small, thin person. They want to look bigger and there's no question that taking steroids, growth hormones or insulin will work."
He said the problem was mainly seen in males who wanted to add muscle to look like their heroes. "It has become almost a cult which is subtly growing. Men are walking around with big muscles and to be part of that peer group you also have to have big muscles."
Dr Julien Baker and Michael Graham assisted Dr Davies in the study, which looked at 200 regular bodybuilders in South Wales. They found that the most abused drugs were diuretics, thyroxine, ephidrine, tamoxifen, growth hormone and insulin.
"Steroids remain the most abused drug with 89 per cent of respondents saying they obtained the drugs from aberrant sources. However 95 per cent of respondents admitted to taking a combination or prescription drugs," Prof Davies said