The dadbod phenomenon recently brought light to the growing trend of objectifying the male body, with social media making fun of young twenty-somethings with the soft lines of a middle-aged man living a semi-sedentary lifestyle. Now, a new study suggests that researchers need to take a harder look at men when exploring eating disorders.

Researchers from Alliant International University in Los Angeles presented the study, "Excessive Workout Supplement Use: An Emerging Eating Disorder in Men," at the American Psychological Association's (APA) annual convention last Thursday. The scientists concluded that eating disorders extend to the use of legal dietary supplements, such as whey protein, which are being improperly used by a growing number of males.

The upward trend in the objectification of the male body emerges along with an increase in general dissatisfaction with the body and "concomitant eating pathologies among males," stated the paper generated from the study.

"Nevertheless, masculine body image ideals often remain unaccounted for in body image and eating disorder research, which predominantly conceptualizes these issues based on a drive for thinness, rather than simultaneous drives toward being both lean and muscular," the paper continued.

The research surveyed 195 males who had used at least one dietary supplement the previous month. About 30 percent of the respondents indicated that they felt they overused dietary supplements and about 8 percent of them admitted to using supplements despite being advised by their doctors not to do so.

The way some men misuse supplements poses risks to both their physical and emotional health, with the potential to harm relationships, noted Richard Achiro of the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University.

"It is an expression, or variance, of eating disorder behavior in these men," said Achiro.

As regards why men misuse supplements, the study points to body dissatisfaction and issues with self-esteem.

"Taken together low self-esteem and gender role conflict, which is an underlying sense of insecurity about one's masculinity, contribute more to the overuse of these products than body dissatisfaction alone," stated Achiro.

The study is now shining light on legal APED (Appearance and Performance-Enhancing Drugs), but now it's time for psychology's wider community to account for these supplements and educate the public.

Education "regarding eating disorder behavior in relation to legal APED use may be necessary given the high likelihood that these men do not perceive themselves to have a problem," stated the study.

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