CHICAGO — Eight percent of girls and 12 percent of boys surveyed for a recent study have used supplements to get a better body, according to the August edition of Pediatrics. While protein powders and shakes were most commonly used, steroids, growth hormone, amino acids and other substances were also listed.
After studying 10,449 predominately white, middle-class, 12- to 18-year olds whose mothers participated in a Harvard-affiliated nurse's health study, the study's authors found that girls who wanted to lose weight had an increased likelihood of using unhealthy methods. Other risk factors were girls and boys who reported thinking frequently about wanting more defined muscles and those who wanted to gain weight. In addition, boys who read men's, teen, fashion or health and fitness magazines were twice as likely to use unhealthy products, and girls who wanted to look like females in the media were significantly more likely to use supplements. Consistent with other cross-sectional studies, the study found that teens who lift weights or play football are at an increased risk for using creatine, amino acids, DHEA, growth hormone or steroids.
“It is unknown whether the association is attributable to encouragement from peers or coaches, but the topic warrants more investigation,” the authors wrote.
The news wasn't all bad though. A sizable number of teens are strength training — 44 percent of girls and 62 percent of boys.