A new study has found that many teenagers are using steroids or protein powders to increase muscle size and tone.
"These behaviors are a little more common among young people than we previously thought. We want to put it on the radar for pediatricians, parents and other people working with adolescents," said Dr. Marla Eisenberg from University of Minnesota School of Medicine and lead author of the study, CNN reports.
The study also found that girls were just as likely as boys to use steroids and protein shakes.
"We were not expecting to see rates as high as we did among girls, since this is typically thought of as a boys' issue. Our findings show society needs to reshape how we think of body image concerns," Eisenberg said in a statement.
The study included nearly 3,000 students aged around 14 years from EAT (eating and activity in teens) 2010 data. More than 60 percent of boys and girls reported that they changed their diets. 35% boys admitted to taking protein shakes compared to 21% girls. Steroid use was at 6 percent in boys and about 5 percent in girls.
Using artificial means to increase muscle mass can lead to many health complication like cardiovascular disease or a poor immune system. Teens using these drugs may use non-sterile injections that can put them at risk for being infected with HIV/AIDS or hepatitis.
Dr. Nicholas Fletcher, from Emory University School of Medicine told CNN Health that kids want to be like their idols. "As their idols have increased in size they are continually pushed to get stronger, bigger and faster so there is that trickle down effect so kids want to be that."
The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.
Published by Medicaldaily.com