1. Health


Reverse Anorexia


Updated May 21, 2014


Bigorexia (reverse anorexia) a form of muscular dysmorphia

Joachim Ladefoged

Being preoccupied with muscle development may involve a disturbance in body image similar to anorexia. Bigorexia (muscular dysmorphia) is now affecting hundreds of thousands of men. For some men muscle development is such a complete preoccupation that they will miss important events, continue training through pain or broken bones, even lose their job rather than interrupt their physical development schedule. Curiously, these same men are not in love with their bodies. Despite a well developed physique they are unlikely to show it off and will shy away from situations that expose their bodies. 

Muscle Dysmorphia
The term 'muscle dysmorphia' was coined in 1997 to describe this new form of disorder. Other people refer to the condition as 'reverse anorexia', and now more commonly 'bigorexia'. The causes are not known but two key ideas revolve around bigorexia as a form of obsessive compulsive behavior and secondly, the effect of the media putting the same type of pressure on men to conform to an ideal shape as has been the case with women for years.

The Main Characteristic of Bigorexia
The main characteristic of bigorexia is the thought that no matter how hard you try your body is never muscular enough. The condition is recognized as more common with men although some women body builders have also been reported with similar symptoms. Most men with bigorexia are weight lifters, but this does not mean that most weight lifters are bigorexic. Compared to normal weightlifters who report spending up to 40 minutes a day thinking about body development, men with bigorexia report being preoccupied 5 or more hours a day thinking their bodies are under-developed.  

With the increase in gymnasium provision and attendance there is some speculation that this alone accounts for increased awareness of physical imperfection in men and a quest to attain the perfect body. Conservative estimates put bigorexia as affecting hundreds of thousands of men.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.