An alarming new study reveals the risk of developing an eating disorder is significantly high for teenagers who use supplements to gain weight. Trying to bulk up or eating more to gain weight, as well as taking supplements or anabolic steroids can be contributing factors.
The team also noted teens who have developed muscularity-related eating disorders are likely to exercise in excess, as well as increase their protein consumption intake
"In moderation, some behaviours such as eating more or different types of food to build muscle or bulk up may not be ‘disordered,’" study author Jason Nagata, a researcher at the University of California, told a news portal. Adding,“However, engaging in muscle-building or bulking behaviours may put young people at greater risk for developing an eating disorder."
For the study, the team observed a nationally-representative sample of 14,891 teens and young adults. They monitored this group for almost seven years. The results showed more than one in five males and one in 20 females had developed muscularity-related eating disorders by the time they were 18 or above.
“Some eating disorders can be challenging to diagnose,” Nagata told a news portal. Adding, “Unlike anorexia nervosa, which may be easily identified by parents or paediatricians, disordered eating to increase bulk may masquerade as healthy habits and because of this, it tends to go unnoticed.”
Researchers discovered many of the teen boys who were exercising to gain weight were more likely to develop muscularity-related eating disorders. “Over-exercise is associated with disordered eating to be leaner (lose weight) and to gain weight (increase muscle bulk),” C. Alix Timko, a psychologist at the Eating Disorder Assessment and Treatment Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told a news portal. Adding, "Going to the gym or exercising multiple times a week (or even every day) can be problematic.”
Researchers hope the findings urge parents and health professionals to be on the look for eating disorders in children trying to gain weight.
The study's findings were originally published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.