SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Bigorexia is the reverse of Anorexia. Doctors say it’s a condition where young men are so obsessed with gaining massive muscles in conjunction with clean eating.

From the clothes we wear to the hair, makeup and physical appearance, everyone wants to look good. But is it really about looking good or is it about being accepted and just how far will one go to achieve the so-called “perfect look?”

According to the University of Utah Health, it’s estimated that roughly 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States will deal with an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

We often hear about young girls and adult women who suffer from anorexia, restricting calories or just simply not eating a wide variety of foods in a relentless pursuit of thinness and almost a fear of gaining weight. Most of this comes from a perception of what the so-called “ideal body” is supposed to look like influenced by television, magazines, and social media.

Men and young teenage boys are not immune to this way of thinking. “Males have a lot of pressure to be big, lean, and muscular and athletic in their appearance, those pressures aren’t anything new,” says Dr. Kristin Francis a child psychiatrist at Huntsman Mental Health Institute. She adds that what is new in the popular culture is the fixation on gaining extreme muscles, almost superhuman strength.

It’s called Bigorexia or muscle dysmorphia, obsessive thoughts about having certain size muscles. This is in conjunction with Orthorexia, a deep obsession with clean eating almost to the point where it’s unhealthy.

Doctors say they’re seeing starting in the mid to late teen years in males.

Dr. Francis says, “we’re definitely seeing this trend among young men at the college level in Utah.”

She agrees that in many cases, social media plays a major role in influencing the minds of young men on what the perfect male physique should look like. “It’s basically this targeted platform that doesn’t show a normative range of bodies,” says Dr. Francis.

But in the case of Jason Wood, a speaker/author of Orthorexia bites he says the fixation with dieting and extreme working out came from being bullied in school about his weight.

“Kids could go into class on the first day of school and let their personality become their identity, for me I was already labeled the fat kid and when social media came into play, things got worse,” Wood tells ABC4.

Wood says the disorder began when he was 15 and continued into his mid 30’s during this time and the rise of social media platforms, he had his set on specific body goals.

“I would see all these bodybuilders and all of these guys with their shirts off and rippling six-packs and bulging muscles, and I’d see how they were so popular, so happy and I wanted that,” says Wood.

Mental health experts say the preoccupation with the idea that one’s body isn’t muscular enough takes a toll on their self-esteem, this was true for Jason Wood. He says during the COVID-19 pandemic, he fell into a dark place.

Dr. Kristin Francis of Huntsman Mental Health Institute says typically young men go longer without anyone noticing there’s an eating disorder issue, it also usually leads to extreme illnesses from a lack of nutrients, an overload of protein powder which can cause kidney damage, as well as diet and muscle building supplements.

In fact, she says Utah is one of the highest consumers of supplements in the country.

“There’s a lot of non-FDA approved steroid analogs out there and they can be really dangerous,” says Dr. Francis.

While doctors say Bigorexia is fueled by popular culture, Kelsey Jepsen a social media influencer who promotes body positivity through her Embody Love Workshop platform believes it all comes down to just accepting our bodies for what they are.

“When you can finally ask yourself this thought that I’m having about my body, is it true, it is kind, is it helpful, and does it align with my values,” says Jepsen.

For Jason Wood, he says that he’s been able to get some help to overcome his battles with Bigorexia, but with the popularity of platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, he knows there are young men who still have these thoughts of wanting to get their bodies as muscular as possible.

Wood says “it doesn’t matter how big our muscles are, how small our waist is, how much we weigh none of those numbers will define who we are.”

Dr. Kristin Francis at Huntsman Mental Health Institute encourages parents to keep a close eye on their teenage boys eating habits and watch for social media posts about weight or bodybuilding.

She says there’s no harm in parents promoting healthy habits like moving their bodies or mindful eating but it’s best to focus on your child’s attributes as a person instead of what they look like.