According to a recent study published in Pediatrics, more teens are using muscle enhancing products than ever before. The study authors found that far more teens are engaging in behaviors specifically aimed at increasing muscle mass than in the past.
Of 2793 teens surveyed, the authors found that 34.7% of reported they had used protein powders or shakes, 66% changed their diets, and 5.9% reported they had used steroids. Boys were more likely than girls to admit trying various means of increasing their muscle mass, including changing eating habits, exercising, using protein powders, taking steroids and other muscle-enhancing substances behaviors.
It might seem positive that teens are focused on their health, but the authors warn that not all of these behaviors are healthy. Some methods of increasing muscle mass can be outright dangerous. Steroid use comes with a long list of negative side effects, and obsessively focusing on body shape is a set up for dissatisfaction, and even eating disorders.
This new information could may be eye-opening for parents, teachers and coaches. It could also provide a great opportunity to begin an open discussion with teens about the difference between health and well-being, and body shape. In a society where the images and role models display an unattainable ideal of beauty and fitness, it's helpful to be reminded that better health doesn't always come with the perfect a six-pack, and using extreme methods to create a specific body shape often comes with a hefty price tag.
Also see: Is My Teen Using Anabolic Steroids?