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Unhealthy Muscle Building Behavior in Adolescents

A new study shows that more adolescents are consuming muscle-enhancing protein powders (35%) and steroids (6%), which experts believe may be unhealthy behaviors. Marla E. Eisenberg, ScD, MPH, from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis reports the results of their survey in the journal Pediatrics, stating that these rates are higher than previous reports.

The study involved almost 3000 middle- and high school adolescents from the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota area who participated in the Eating and Activity in Teens 2010 (EAT 2010) study. The survey asked about the adolescents’ diet, exercise, and use of protein powders, steroids and other muscle-building substances to enhance their muscle appearance.

The results showed that boys were more likely to engage in muscle enhancing behaviors although they were equally involved in changing their eating behaviors and in using steroids.

Although the researchers considered changing eating habits and increasing exercise as healthy, they classified frequent use of protein powders, steroids, and other substances such as amino acids and growth hormone as unhealthy.

The authors also considered other factors such as race, grade level, body mass index, and participation in sports. They found that overweight and obese girls were more likely to use protein powders or shakes than girls of normal weight. Other adolescents who engaged in muscle enhancing behaviors were those of Asian descent, those in high school, and those who were involved in sports.

The researchers explain that the current Western idea of an ideal body image is lean, muscular and large, which adolescents strive to achieve. They believe that adolescents must be guided to focus more on fitness, skill development and general health rather than muscle enhancement.


Pullen, L. Muscular Appearance a Focus of Too Many Adolescents. Medscape.

Posted in: Body Building, Exercise, Fitness, Healthy Eating, Kid's Health, Lifestyle, News Briefs

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