Skip to main content


Muscle-building obsession in boys

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Muscle dysmorphia: what is it?

The obsession with having a lean and muscular physique characterises muscle dysmorphia. While only a small percentage of boys and young men exhibit the more extreme behaviours that characterise this disorder, it may affect many more people's perspectives. A quarter of boys and young men engage in muscle-building activities of some kind. In the United States, about 60% of young boys say they've altered their diet to build muscle. Even though that might not fit the definition of muscle dysmorphia disorder, many young men are affected by it. There is a social norm that links masculinity and muscle." "Today, even Halloween costumes for boys aged 4 and 5 include padding for six-pack abs. They are constantly told that their bodies should look like this.

Do boys and girls with body dysmorphic disorder have different symptoms?

Body dysmorphia, once thought to be a girl's thing, can manifest as eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia. Muscle dysmorphia is not an eating disorder in the strictest sense. However, it is much more pervasive and sneaky in males.

The prevalent belief is that body dysmorphia only affects females and doesn't affect men.

What are the symptoms of male body dysmorphia?
Parents may find it challenging to tell whether their son is just acting like a teenager or deviating into dangerous territory. Parents should watch out for these warning signs:
  • A noticeable change in exercise habits, such as going from working out once per day to working out for several hours each day.
  • Following a set schedule for their workouts or meals, such as restricting their food intake or placing a strong emphasis on high-protein foods.
  • Avoiding regular activities, like spending time with friends, in favour of working out.
  • Taking pictures of their abdomen or muscles obsessively to document "improvement."
  • Repeatedly weighing himself each day.
  • wearing clothes that emphasise a more muscular physique or hiding their physique with baggier clothing because they don't think it's good enough.
This is different because they are persistent; they don't just give it a shot for a week before abandoning it. These boys have been engaging in this behaviour for weeks or even months, and they are not adaptable.

Boys with dysmorphia?
Risks to one's physical and mental health can result from extreme behaviour.
Boys who want to quickly bulk up their muscles may find that unregulated protein powders and supplements are adulterated with stimulants or even anabolic steroids. As a result, there is a higher chance of having a stroke, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and liver damage.
A "bulk and cut" routine, which alternates between periods of rapid weight gain and periods of severe calorie restriction, is another way that some boys try to build muscle. Long-term muscle and bone development may be hampered, and lower testosterone levels and an irregular heartbeat may result.

The psychological repercussions can also be extremely severe. Boys who drastically reduce their caloric intake or skip entire food groups may become malnourished, which is more common in people with depression and thoughts of suicide. Additionally, they might constantly feel inadequate as a result of their attempts to live up to unrealistic ideals.

Avoid buying protein supplements. When parents won't let them inside the house, boys have a harder time getting them. A dietitian or your son's primary care physician could be a great resource for advice on how to get protein from everyday foods.


My name is Melody. I am tall and, according to almost everyone I meet, beautiful. Little things make me happy. I like the simple things in life. I am currently exploring Scotland, and I must say it's beautiful. I used to live in Ukraine, but I now reside in Glasgow due to leaving because of the war. I am discovering myself in this new country, working, wearing beautiful dresses, and making the most of life. Did I mention that I speak English, Igbo, and Russian? How are you doing today?

Follow me on Instagram