Objectives Male bodybuilders have been found previously to have higher levels of disordered eating and body-image disturbance than do other men. This study investigated whether objectification theory (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997) could be used to explain these observed differences in male body-image.

Design A cross-sectional, self-report design was used.

Methods Three samples of men were recruited: bodybuilders (N = 31), weightlifters (N = 17), and non-athletic controls (N = 35). Participants completed a questionnaire containing measures of self-objectification, self-surveillance, body shame, appearance anxiety, and four outcomes: body dissatisfaction, drive for muscularity, bulimia, and depression.

Results As predicted, bodybuilders had significantly higher levels of self-objectification than weightlifters and controls, and higher levels of body dissatisfaction and drive for muscularity than controls. Overall, the relationships between self-objectification and the outcome variables, and self-surveillance and the outcome variables, were mediated by appearance anxiety.

Conclusions . Bodybuilding is associated with outcomes that suggest it may not result in greater overall health for men. It was concluded that objectification theory provides a useful framework for examining body-image differences in men.