- Fitness buffs who are obsessed with bodybuilding, bulging biceps and ‘six-pack' abs, are overusing supplements to the point that the practice might qualify as a new kind of eating disorder.
- According to a study, the increasing use of herbal and dietary supplements (HDS) worldwide has led to an increase in liver damage cases.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 16 Aug 2017: Doctors at Medcare Hospital have raised concerns on the abuse of supplements like performance enhancing medication, growth hormones (HGH), and high amount of protein powders for muscle development by bodybuilders and gym goers. The lack of knowledge on the physical and mental risks of using these could lead to serious health consequences in the long run.
Dr. Mohammad Ashfaq Konchwalla, Consultant Sports Surgeon at Medcare Hospital, Dubai explained, “Low self-esteem, poor body image, and the desire to appear masculine have contributed to an increase in the use of appearance and performance enhancing supplements. Men often have undue weight and shape preoccupation, and use unhealthy methods of improving their appearance.”
In some cases, patients may be suffering from ‘Bigorexia' also known as Muscle Dysmorphia. It is an anxiety disorder which causes someone to see themselves as small, despite actually being big and muscular. Such individuals obsess about being inadequately muscular. The condition primarily affects male bodybuilders. Compulsions include spending hours in the gym, squandering excessive amounts of money on ineffectual sports supplements, abnormal eating patterns or even substance abuse.
Sharing a patient case, Dr. Ashfaq said, “I recently treated a 28 year old man with severe swelling in both arms. He had seen several doctors and was advised to give-up Gym activities. When he came to me, his diagnosis revealed that he had tumors in both arms due to some boosters he used to enhance his muscle mass. We surgically removed the tumours, and did shoulder reconstruction to improve recovery. He is now recuperating and completing his physiotherapy, along with a rehabilitation training program to continue exercises.”
Manufacturers advertise products as a convenient way to get extra nutrients to boost fitness. Most people get enough protein from their diet, so consuming extra protein may lead to potential adverse health effects. Further, these supplements are not monitored for safety by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to USFDA dietary supplements are regarded as foods rather than as drugs, and are assumed to be safe, unless proven otherwise.2
Sports and fitness enthusiasts are advised to follow ethics, healthy guidelines and avoid use of high performance medications and excessive dietary supplements, which could be detrimental to their health.