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Prevalence of muscle dysmorphia in adolescents: findings from the EveryBODY study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 March 2021

Deborah Mitchison*
Affiliation:
Translational Health Research Institute, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, Campbelltown, NSW, Australia Department of Psychology, Centre for Emotional Health, North Ryde, NSW, Australia
Jonathan Mond
Affiliation:
Centre for Rural Health, University of Tasmania, Launceston, TAS, Australia
Scott Griffiths
Affiliation:
Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Phillipa Hay
Affiliation:
Translational Health Research Institute, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, Campbelltown, NSW, Australia Camden and Campbelltown Hospitals, SWSLHD, Camden and Campbelltown, NSW, Australia
Jason M. Nagata
Affiliation:
Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA;
Kay Bussey
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Centre for Emotional Health, North Ryde, NSW, Australia
Nora Trompeter
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Centre for Emotional Health, North Ryde, NSW, Australia
Alexandra Lonergan
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Centre for Emotional Health, North Ryde, NSW, Australia
Stuart B. Murray
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
*
Author for correspondence: Deborah Mitchison, PhD, E-mail: deborah.mitchison@westernsydney.edu.au

Abstract

Background

We sought to provide the first point prevalence estimates of muscle dysmorphia (MD), a form of body dysmorphic disorder characterized by a preoccupation with perceived insufficient muscularity, in adolescents.

Methods

Data were taken from a survey of 3618 Australian adolescents (11.172–19.76 years; 49.3% girls). Measures captured demographic characteristics, symptoms of MD and eating disorders, psychological distress and functional impairment. Diagnostic criteria for MD developed by Pope et al. (1997, Psychosomatics, 38(6), 548–557) were applied, entailing preoccupation with insufficient muscularity causing significant levels of distress or disability that cannot be better accounted for by an eating disorder.

Results

The point prevalence of MD was 2.2% [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.6–3.0%] among boys and 1.4% (95% CI 0.9–2.0%) among girls. Prevalence was not associated with gender (V = 0.031) or socioeconomic status (SES) (partial η2< 0.001), but was marginally associated with older age (partial η2 = 0.001). Boys with MD were more likely than girls with MD to report severe preoccupation with muscularity (V = 0.259) and a weight-lifting regime that interfered with their life (V = 0.286), whereas girls with MD were more likely to report discomfort with body exposure (V = 0.380).

Conclusions

While future epidemiological research using diagnostic interviews is needed to verify these estimates, the findings suggest that MD is relatively common from early to late adolescence. Gender differences in MD prevalence may be minimal; however, the symptom profile appears to diverge between boys and girls. These findings provide a platform for future, analytical research designed to inform clinical and public health interventions.

Type
Original Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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