Teens using protein shakes and supplements to bulk up

According to the latest research, teens may be relying more heavily on muscle-building supplements and protein shakes than previously believed. According to a survey taken by study authors, 35% of all males and females polled reported using protein powders or shakes and almost 6% admitted to taking steroids. This marks a dramatic increase from other studies that put the numbers of protein shake users at about 10.2% of males and 8% of females.

The report, which was published today in ‘Pediatrics,’ also found that the numbers greatly varied by; gender, race, body mass index (BMI), and sports participation. While much research has been conducted on women and body image this was one of the few studies to address the pressures young men are under to appear lean and muscular.

“Boy’s body dissatisfaction has simultaneously increased, and research has demonstrated that exposure to images of extremely muscular models contributes to body dissatisfaction and muscle dysmorphia in young men,” the authors said.

Participants in the study were asked to complete a 235 question survey which asked questions regarding muscle-enhancing behaviors such as altered eating behaviors or exercise and were asked to report their height, weight and physical measurements. They also listed gender, race, school grade, socioeconomic status and sports participation.

The study found that of the nearly 1,500 men survey about 65% reported changing their eating habits to bulk up and 90% reported exercising more to build muscle both of which were considered healthy habits. The study also reported on ‘unhealthy’ habits and found that 35% of participants used protein shakes and powders, 6% used steroids and 10% used muscle-enhancing substances.

The rates among females were considerably lower. Only 21% of women reported using powders, 4.5% reported using steroids and 5.5% reported using muscle-enhancing substances. The study also found that Asian students, both male and female, were more likely to use steroids than white students that were surveyed.

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