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Tackling bigorexia and anabolic steroid use must be a collective priority - Louise O'Reilly TD

3 December, 2018 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that much more needs to be done by the politicians, the health service, and by the media to help tackle muscle dysmorphia and in particular the growing incidence of steroid and performance enhancing drug misuse in Ireland.

Speaking this evening, Teachta O’Reilly said:

“In recent years we have become more aware of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating to name but a few. This has been the result of the hard work of organisations such as Bodywhys, the health service, the media, and the real stories of those who have suffered from these conditions.

“There is still much to be done to tackle these health disorders, but things are moving in the right direction.

“An area where rapidly needs to become a priority for politicians and the health service is that of muscle dysmorphia.

“Muscle dysmorphia is a condition in which a person becomes obsessively focussed on being too small and not muscular enough, it is often referred to as bigorexia or reverse anorexia, and it affects men more commonly than women.

“People with bigorexia resort to many measures to increase their muscle mass such as working out compulsively including excessive weightlifting, often prioritising working out over family and friends, excessive attention to diet, misuse of high protein diet, and the misuse of steroids and other muscle-building drugs.

“Obviously this condition itself carries significant difficulties for a person’s mental health, but it also carries physical health risks especially if those who have the condition are misusing steroids or performance enhancing drugs.

“The Body Dysmorphic Foundation in Britain recently reported that as many as one in 10 people who work out may have muscle dysmorphia, and levels here could be similar.

“Indeed, Parliamentary Question responses to me from the HSE have shown that in 2011 the total number of emergency in-patient discharges relating to steroid use was 174, while last year that had risen to 398.

"While some of these increases will have been because of reactions to steroid creams, a number of the attendees to Emergency Departments will have been as a result of anabolic steroid abuse.

“The problem is growing and it is also evidenced by the fact that An Garda Síochána and the Revenue’s customs service seized almost 500,000 anabolic steroid dosage units in tablet and capsule forms last year, compared to just over 100,000 units in 2016.

“The Minister for Health and the health service need to make sure the proper structures and resources are in place to help those who present with muscle dysmorphia.

"I believe that politicians and the media have a role in highlighting the condition and to encourage people to reach out for help. We also have to ensure that the government make the appropriate help available for those who need it”. 

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