Muscle dysmorphia: Could it be classified as an addiction to body image?

Andrew C Foster, Gillian W Shorter, Mark D Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Muscle dysmorphia (MD) describes a condition characterised by a misconstrued body image in which
individuals who interpret their body size as both small or weak even though they may look normal or highly muscular.
MD has been conceptualized as a type of body dysmorphic disorder, an eating disorder, and obsessive–compulsive
disorder symptomatology. Method and aim: Through a review of the most salient literature on MD, this paper
proposes an alternative classification of MD – the ‘Addiction to Body Image’ (ABI) model – using Griffiths (2005)
addiction components model as the framework in which to defineMDas an addiction. Results: It is argued the addictive
activity in MD is the maintaining of body image via a number of different activities such as bodybuilding, exercise,
eating certain foods, taking specific drugs (e.g., anabolic steroids), shopping for certain foods, food supplements,
and the use or purchase of physical exercise accessories). In the ABI model, the perception of the positive effects
on the self-body image is accounted for as a critical aspect of the MD condition (rather than addiction to exercise
or certain types of eating disorder). Conclusions: Based on empirical evidence to date, it is proposed that MD
could be re-classified as an addiction due to the individual continuing to engage in maintenance behaviours that may
cause long-term harm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Behavioral Addictions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 3 Feb 2014


  • muscle dysmorphia
  • behavioral addiction
  • behavioural addiction
  • body dysmorphic disorder
  • body image
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • eating disorder
  • Addiction


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