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Six-pack Craze Among Men

Posted February. 11, 2008 03:08,   


College student Park, 26, who stands 183 centimeters tall and weighs 68 kilograms, frequently hears people say that he looks like a fashion model, thanks to his well-developed physique.

However, he has his share of agony. He has recently received psychiatric treatment. Though he boasts a good shape with no fat, his obsession with a lean and muscular body forced him to take exercise while eating only chicken breasts.

When he was unable to endure hunger, he would wolf down ice cream and snacks and rush to the restroom to vomit what he just ate. In the end, he was taken to the hospital by his parents and diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.

Obsession with weight loss is no longer women’s problem. With the “making a nice frame” rage among young males, more people fall into ill health due to excessive diet and exercise or suffer from side effects of unlicensed dietary supplements.

College student Kim, 21, managed to lose 40 kilograms in four months by cutting down his calorie intake by two-thirds and working out for four hours a day, which included running 10 kilometers and jumping rope 2,000 times. But he was hospitalized due to a sudden breakdown of liver and kidney functions.

“I became obsessive about my appearance because I wanted to look nice. I indulged myself in workout, and, in the end, I couldn’t control myself,” said Kim.

The craze for a perfect body shape among men is mainly attributable to the growing popularity of beefcake entertainers like Kwon Sang-woo and Rain. Also going around are buzzwords such as “six-pack” referring to a muscular abdomen and “M-line” depicting muscular lines stretching from both arms to the chest.

Mirroring this trend, obesity clinics, located in districts haunted by youths, such as Sinchon, Apgujeong-dong, and areas surrounding Hongik University, see an increasing number of male patients.

“Recently, the number of male patients quadrupled. We are also surprised at the growing number. Three or four out of every ten patients are men,” said a staff of DoctorForYou, an obesity clinic.

Kim Ha-jin, president of “365mc,” a clinic specializing in treating obese patients, said, “In the past, people wanted to remove fat around the abdomen for the sake of health. But, these days, young people want to eliminate fat along their chest, back, thigh, and buttocks that prevent them from wearing clothes stylishly.”

In a situation where some men even undergo liposuction, experts warn against an excessive obsession with one’s figure, saying it may end up hurting one’s health.

“Some 80 percent of the male patients who come here because of obesity are normal and a little overweight,” said Kang Hui-chan, president of Baksang Mental Health Clinic. He warned that an excessive diet can lead to illnesses such as anorexia, bulimia, and malnutrition and undermine liver and renal functions.

Postings complaining of adverse effects coming from a reckless use of dietary supplement are easily spotted on the Internet.

In a Web board on an American portal site, set up by people who use dietary products, more than 80 complaints were posted in a month. Some of them read like, “I suffered from dizziness, headache, and skin trouble,” “I slept only six hours for three days because of the drug,” and “After taking medicine, I have pins and needles and often break out in a cold sweat.”

Researcher Park Gyeong-sik at the Korea Food and Drug Administration said, “A majority of drugs that are dubbed dietary supplements in Korea are functional foods for health that are imported and distributed illegally. People can suffer paralysis, allergic reaction, and shock from an overdose of these products.”