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Original Research

Open Access Special Issue

Appearance and performance enhancing drug usage and body image across three age cohorts of fitness enthusiast men

  • Jessica Strübel1,*,
  • Rose Leger2
  • Xintong Guan2

1Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising & Design, College of Business, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881, USA

2Marketing, College of Business, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881, USA

DOI: 10.31083/j.jomh1802051 Vol.18,Issue 2,February 2022 pp.1-12

Submitted: 30 August 2021 Accepted: 18 October 2021

Published: 28 February 2022

(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weight maintenance in men)

*Corresponding Author(s): Jessica Strübel E-mail:


Background: Because research findings on men’s body image and compensatory behaviors (e.g., appearance and performance enhancing drug (APED) usage) across the lifecycle in men is contradictory, the purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between age and body image concerns, and to investigate the specific types of APEDs used across the three age cohorts (emerging, established, and middle-aged men). Methods: Using an online survey and a sample of 1020 fitness enthusiast men, we investigated (1) type of APED/supplements used across three periods of life (emerging adulthood, established adulthood, middle age), and (2) any relationship between period in life and body image. Results: emerging adult participants had significantly lower appreciation for body functionality compared to their older counterparts. Established adult men had higher drive for leanness and muscle dysmorphia symptoms compared to the other two groups. The data suggest that men vary in severity of body image dissatisfaction depending on their age. All participants in the current study participated in polypharmacy of APED usage, and the associations between age cohorts and APED consumption were significant. Established adult men endorsed a more muscular body, higher drive for leanness, and they proportionally consume more APEDs compared to their younger (and older) counterparts. Conclusions: At this stage of life, men may start noticing age-related changes to their body, which may lead to preoccupations with their health and functionality, and they may use products to help counteract a declining metabolism and overall shift in physical health. Findings of this study could be beneficial for familiarizing clinicians with focused knowledge of intergenerational dynamics, which allows for better understanding of the diversity of challenges and opportunities facing each age cohort with respect to the aging body.


Body image; Muscle dysmorphia; Appearance and performance enhancing drugs; Fitness enthusiast; Age; Drive for lean-ness; Body appreciation

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Jessica Strübel,Rose Leger,Xintong Guan. Appearance and performance enhancing drug usage and body image across three age cohorts of fitness enthusiast men. Journal of Men's Health. 2022. 18(2);1-12.


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