- "Men and women increasingly get their ideas of what they should look like from the imagery they see in the media". [Dr David Giles University of Winchester]
Dr Giles, from the University of Winchester together with colleague Jessica Close recently surveyed 161 men aged between 18 and 36. He found that those who regularly read the magazines were more likely to be influenced by the imagery contained within their pages.
Dr Giles said: "The message in typical lads' magazines is that you need to develop a muscular physique in order to attract a quality mate. Worryingly, some were considering the use of anabolic steroids to improve their appearance.
"Readers internalise this message, which creates anxieties about their actual bodies and leads to increasingly desperate attempts to modify them."
'Trapped into obsession'
Some specialists have dubbed this condition "athletica nervosa", though a more frequently used term is body dysmorphic disorder.
Dr Giles said: "Men and women increasingly get their ideas of what they should look like from the imagery they see in the media.
"The volume of content is growing and it is trapping young people in particular, into unhealthy obsessions about their own bodies."
"Among men, there are those who focus on their muscularity - they may not be seeking aesthetic perfection, but instead some kind of regularity, or symmetry, and they become preoccupied with achieving it".
"We can't say for sure whether these magazines might be causing it, but it's very persuasive that cultural factors are important."