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Minerva Psychiatry 2021 December;62(4):203-8

DOI: 10.23736/S2724-6612.20.02095-6


language: English

Bigorexia and orthorexia: an indissoluble relationship?

Lucia PARISI 1, Sabina LA GRUTTA 1, Rosa LO BAIDO 2, Maria S. EPIFANIO 1, Marco CAROTENUTO 3, Francesca F. OPERTO 4, Davide TESTA 1, Luigi VETRI 5 , Michele ROCCELLA 1

1 Department of Psychology, Educational Science and Human Movement, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy; 2 Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neuroscience, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy; 3 Department of Mental Health, Physical and Preventive Medicine, Clinic of Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry, Luigi Vanvitelli University of Campania, Naples, Italy; 4 Unit of Child Neuropsychiatry, Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry, University of Salerno, Salerno, Italy; 5 G. D’Alessandro Department of Sciences for Health Promotion and Mother and Child Care, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy

BACKGROUND: Bigorexia or muscle dysmorphia (MD) is a subtype of body dysmorphic disorder, and it is characterized by an excessive dissatisfaction with body size and muscularity. Orthorexia nervosa (ON) is an obsessive focus on healthy eating and emotional distress related to food choices that are perceived as unhealthy. MD and ON are considered two emerging psychiatric disorders.
METHODS: The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of traits of ON and MD between amateurs and professional athletes who practice bodybuilding. The secondary endpoint of the study is to identify the anabolic steroid abuse among the athletes. To this end we have administered a dichotomic questionnaire to 60 young men: 30 amateur bodybuilders (ABBs) and 30 professional bodybuilders (PBBs).
RESULTS: Scores compatible with a full-blown MD disorder have been found in 100% of subjects of PBB group and in 83% of ABB group. A full-blown ON has been detected in 87% of BBPs and 40% of BBAs and a risk for ON in 10% of BBPs and in 37% of BBAs.
CONCLUSIONS: This study shows a high co-occurrence of MD and ON among the bodybuilders suggesting a link between eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorders.

KEY WORDS: Feeding and eating disorders; Body dysmorphic disorders; Psychiatry

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