Indirect Effects of Negative Body Talk on Eating, Exercise, and Expectations About Steroids in a Sample of At-Risk Adult Men

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Given the lean and muscular male body ideal, men’s body concerns and negative body talk (i.e., fat talk and muscle talk) tend to focus on muscularity and fat. It remains to be seen how men’s negative body talk and appearance concerns relate to unhealthy eating and exercise symptoms and attitudes about steroids. We recruited a sample of 85 at-risk men (Mage = 31, range 18–67, SD = 9.75), who on average reported multiple forms of problematic eating or exercise behaviors. We then used path modeling to test indirect effects of negative body talk on disordered eating, overexercise, and expectations about steroid use through muscle and fat concerns. There were significant direct effects of negative body talk on appearance concerns, and fat talk on expectations about steroids. Additionally, there were significant indirect effects of fat talk on shape and weight concerns through fat concerns, and a significant indirect effect of muscle talk on expectations about steroids through muscle concerns. Interventions reducing men’s negative body talk may reduce engagement in unhealthy weight loss and muscle-gaining behaviors.

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