Current considerations for eating and body-related disorders among men

Antonios Dakanalis, Giuseppe Riva

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Historically, empirical research exploring body image concerns, their antecedents and consequences, has been primarily focused on women and their desire to become thinner resulting in less knowledge of eating and body-related disorders in men. Recently, there has been an increasing awareness of the existence of males with clinical or subclinical eating disorders. According to etiologic models and meta-analytic data, body dissatisfaction is the most consistent and robust risk factor for eating psychopathology. Although men, like women, actually seem to experience similar levels of over-concern about physical body, their body concerns are qualitatively different. Whereas women typically want to become thinner and are focused on losing body fat from the waist-down (e.g. thighs, buttocks, hips), men are dissatisfied with their upper body (i.e., chest, shoulders, arms) and desire to have a muscular physique. These differences suggest that the use of questionnaires measures of body image attitudes primarily designed to capture women's body concerns and conformity to female's body shape ideals may lead to invalid assessment of men's body experience. The preoccupation with enhancing musculature termed as ''drive for muscularity" is closely associated with negative affect, social physique anxiety, pathological exercise behaviour, dysfunctional eating patterns and muscle dysmorphia. Muscle dysmorphia (MD), a form of body dysmorphic disorder, is described as a cluster of dysfunctional cognitions, attitudes and behaviours (i.e. dietaryrestriction, inflexible rule regarding the type and amount of food to be eaten, compulsive exercise to the point of impairing social, occupational, or recreational activities, anabolicandrogenic steroid abuse) experienced mostly by men who believe that one's physique is small and not muscular enough, even though they are often more muscular than average people, accompanied by a strong need to control and change it. Although the validity of MD as a clinical entity is demonstrated, several scholars and clinicians have repeatedly questioned its diagnostic placement (i.e., somatoform disorder vs. eating disorder spectrum). In this chapter we elucidate the gender differences on body images concerns, the factors that contribute to male body dissatisfaction with particular focus on media imagery, which variables interact with body dissadisfaction to predict men's eating disorders symptoms, how similar or dissimilar are males and females with regards to eating disorderd behaviours and the concept of muscle dysmorphia (known also as reverse anorexia).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Body Image: Gender Differences, Sociocultural Influences and Health Implications
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9781626183599
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Drive for muscularity
  • Eating disorders
  • Men
  • Muscle dysmorphia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Psychology(all)


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