Yesterday, I wrote about steroid use and muscle-enhancing behavior in teens.
According to a recent University of Minnesota study led by Marla E. Eisenberg, Sc.D., M.P.H., which appeared yesterday in an early online release of Pediatrics, muscle-enhancing behaviors are now common for both boys and girls, and rates are higher than previously reported.
The study, “Muscle-Enhancing Behaviors Among Adolescent Girls and Boys,” was widely reported on by the media, including stories from: New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, U.S. News & World Report and Mother Nature Network.
Here’s a snapshot of what the media is saying about the research:
“The quest for the perfect body is putting more boys at risk than ever. Experts say that extreme weight-lifting and calorie-counting is on the rise in boys as young as 14, which could interfere with their development.” – The TODAY show
“The model of feminine beauty is now more toned and fit and sculpted than it was a generation ago. It’s not just being thin. It’s being thin and toned. Indeed, visitors to the “Fitspo” Facebook page are greeted by a sinewy model wearing a tank top that reads “Strong is the new skinny.” – The New York Times
“Perhaps the biggest surprise is that a lot of the kids trying to bulk up weren’t necessarily jocks – they were overweight or obese. And they weren’t just trying steroids. About one-third of the teenagers said they’ve tried protein powders and shakes, perhaps thinking (incorrectly) the products alone can transform fat into muscle. Overweight girls were especially likely to try that.” NPR’s Shots Blog
Almost all reports of the study echoed the same undertones: the health and wellness of our teens and young people is absolutely paramount.
Being in middle school and high school is hard enough without being bombarded with images in the media that you probably won’t ever achieve naturally. It’s important for parents to recognize the world in which their teens are growing up.
As Eisenberg recently told me: “Parents, pediatricians and other health care providers need to be aware that these behaviors are happening, and even if a teen looks muscular and healthy, he or she may still be participating in unhealthy behavior to achieve the ‘perfect’ body. Adults should start talking to teens about muscle-enhancing behavior as they would any other harmful behavior.”