Have you noticed your 14 year old brother has a little more pectoral muscle than you remember the boys did in your middle school class? Check the pantry! Check the medicine cabinet! George may be drinking protein shakes or taking steroids. According to CNN Health, parents should be conscious that teens are trying to increase their body mass and strength to be like their idols. The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics just reported that more teens are using muscle enhancing products. Survey data from 2793 diverse adolescents, muscle-enhancing behaviors were common among both boys and girls–34.7% used protein powders or shakes and 5.9% reported steroid use, average age 14.4. Sports team participation was highly correlated with usage.
As media images of men and women become increasingly muscular, we are seeing a rise in these behaviors. However, it is important to stress the right way to achieve these physiques. Parents must not buy these protein shakes or even energy drinks for their kids, according to Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician in Atlanta, but should make sure they are getting these nutrients from their diet.
There is a call for interventions to alert pediatricians, parents and coaches of this rise in usage, especially because these behaviors can lead excessive use and use of illegal substances.
However, it is important to emphasize the right way to enhance muscle- EXERCISING. While it is not the role of these idols to educate adolescents on proper health practices, they can lead by example. Look at First Lady Michelle Obama and Tennis Goddess Serena Williams.