A study led by the Department of Nursing at the University of Alicante concludes that 90% of people with muscle dysmorphia (MD) consume dietary supplements. From this research, a mobile application was developed to help people knowing the risk.

MD, also known as bigorexia, is an anxiety disorder which causes someone to see themselves small and thin, despite actually being big and muscular; so many people with this disorder become addicted to exercise and muscle-building substances.

Asier Martínez, researcher at the University of Alicante, has carried out an investigation to assess the nutritional status of people doing bodybuilding exercises, their eating habits and the type of supplements they consume. Specifically, the study has had a sample of 141 men, aged between 18 and 45 years, from different social and economic environments that go to sports centers in Alicante and San Vicente del Raspeig, including the gymnasium of the University Of Alicante, at least 4 days a week with the aim of increasing their muscle mass.

After assessing the relationship of MD with anthropometric indices —such as the body mass index (BMI) and the somatotype (taxonomy of human body shape and physique type)— and establishing the type of substances used by the subjects, the study confirms that 89.9% of users with DM symptoms consume supplements. Particularly, a substance to gain muscle and strength called creatine is consumed by 48.9% in individuals with symptoms of the disease and 28.1% in users without symptoms.

The researchers compared the distribution and quantity of macronutrients and micronutrients in the diet of people with MD with healthy gymnasts and the recommended reference standards. In around 50% of MD individuals, the protein intake values were above 2g/kg of body weight and the amount of cholesterol is above 300 mg/day. For vitamins and minerals, individuals are within the recommended daily allowance (CDR) except for vitamin A and iodine.

After analyzing all the data and parameters obtained, we can conclude that the consumption of nutritional supplements, overweight and obesity are risk factors for muscle dysmorphia,” explains Asier Martinez. “It should be noted that the consumption of supplements in the majority of users is very high,” he adds.

Although the 141 men studied carry a varied diet, “protein values exceed the limits proposed according to scientific evidence for muscle mass development in sports of strength that, together with excessive intake of cholesterol, may lead to future health problems,” warns the nutritionist.

The research of Asier Martínez, led by the professor of the Department of Nursing of the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Alicante, Mercedes Rizo, together with Professors Ernesto Cortés and Vicente Gil of the University Miguel Hernández, has given rise to several articles published in the Spanish Journal Nutrición Hospitalaria and one of them has been accepted by the international Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine.

In addition, a practical screening tool has been designed that can be used through a mobile application to detect subjects who may suffer MD. “It can be useful for anyone, whether professional or not, including athletes themselves, because of its low cost, simple, and easy to use,” says the study’s author.


Source: Agencia SINC