Is Bodybuilding a Disorder?

Our society loves the idea of being thin, and obsesses over the idea of being physically fit… but there comes a point when enough is enough because your health, and well being, is at risk. Anorexia Nervosa is a complex eating disorder where the person has an intense fear of gaining weight and becomes obsessed with being thin.  Muscle Dysmorphia is a disorder where a person becomes obsessed with being muscular and alter their eating habits in order to gain more muscle mass…Typically seen in professional bodybuilders. So this leads me to the question… Is body building a disorder?  Bodybuilding can be classified as reverse anorexia (aka muscle dysmorphia) because they are obsessed with their look and diet and exercise begin to control their lives. People who suffer from anorexia believe they are too big, while bodybuilders believe they are too small… both of which affect their perception of their body image. A study done at Vanderbilt says that 8% of bodybuilders insisted they were smaller than they really are. Research done by Pasman and Thompson found that people obligated to weightlifting demonstrate more eating disturbance than eating controls and while they are trying to find their perfect physique, they reach unparalleled extremes in changing their eating habits to maximize workouts for greater muscle mass and definition. They eat massive amounts of meats and consume enormous amounts of protein, they eat healthy fats in order to get rid of the bad ones and drink a lot of water.

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These disorders engulf their minds and can alter their lives not just through physical appearance. People who suffer from anorexia also tend to suffer from depression, making them isolate themselves from friends family and/or actives. Fussell (a retired bodybuilder) stated that he gave up many aspects of his life like his job, his friends, and his family to pursue his obsession with bodybuilding. Bodybuilders are a team of one, meaning they rely only on themselves because coaches and teammates are not apart of the lifestyle. Knowing all of this, do you believe bodybuilding is a disorder?


5 thoughts on “Is Bodybuilding a Disorder?

  1. Amanda Marie Binkley

    I think bodybuilding is almost a psychological issue. I know that when I work out, I feel so great afterwards and it motivates me to workout more often. However, these people take it to a whole new level where they lose control and just keep going. They see themselves as not huge and muscular and just keep doing what they have to do in order to be satisfied with themselves. This becomes a big issue, because from the pictures you posted, their muscles are huge and in my opinion, not attractive. The endorphins in our brains that trigger when we workout are kicked into full gear, which make them want to push themselves even further.

  2. Olivia Diane Talbot Post author

    Eva, I agree with what you’re saying and I think some people are oblivious or overlook the situation. They are both not healthy because with bodybuilding they are consuming too much protein while people who suffer from anorexia do not receive enough.

  3. Chloe Atherton Cullen

    I think you are making a little bit of a stretch in your argument. In the study you looked at only 8% of people had a distorted image as body builders, yet this affects every person with anorexia and starts the vicious starvation cycle in the first place since anorexia tends to stem from emotions like low self-esteem or self-loathing ( While I do see similarities with the distorted eating habits and workout routines, body builders work to display their bodies in front of an audience for a prize, while anorexics and even bulimics face an inner conflict with their disease and also despising that they have the disease. Part of the definition of an eating disorder combines emotional and physical toil according to the National Eating Disorders Association ( There are common traits between them, but I feel that true eating disorders destroy bodies and minds simultaneously.

  4. Eva Luz Bonta

    I’d never thought about body building being a disorder, but when you compare it to anorexia it seems highly likely it could be. Both are body dysmorphia’s and if anorexia is clearly classified as a disorder, then it would make sense for body building to be a disorder as well. I think that a lot, if not most, of body builders have an obsessive-compulsive disorder (because how else could they push themselves to do it?), so maybe it’s just a disorder fueling another disorder.

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