TORONTO (CP) - One in five elite male athletes suffers from body-image problems, according to a study released Friday. But unlike girls and women, who often think they're heavier than they should be, these men felt they didn't weigh enough.
"Some male athletes see pictures in men's fitness magazines of big, extremely muscular men and feel that they don't measure up," Jennifer Carter, a psychologist at the Ohio State University, said in a news release.
"One thing we like to discuss with the male athletes is that these bodybuilders may be on steroids and their bodies may be unattainable without chemical assistance."
Carter's pilot survey, the results of which were released Friday at the American Psychological Association's annual meeting in Toronto, found that the men surveyed wanted to gain an average of 3.2 pounds.
Aside from being bad for self confidence, dissatisfaction with body image could lead men to use potentially dangerous performance-enhancing drugs, the study said.
The study found that nine per cent of the 882 university athletes surveyed reported using performance-enhancing drugs or substances, such as the muscle-building protein creatine.
"I don't have male athletes approaching me to say they have an eating disorder, but I do see athletes who say they are concerned about their body and want to be bigger and more muscular," Carter said.
"Sometimes their desire to be more muscular has little to do with improving their athletic performance."
The study, conducted in 2002, showed that fewer than two per cent of respondents had diagnosable eating disorders.
© The Canadian Press, 2003
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®2001 American Psychological Association
Last updated: 08/13/2003 - 08:21 PM