SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - It's good when a teenager wants to work out and stay in shape, but parents need to pay attention to how they're achieving their goals. A new study finds more and more teens appear to be turning to muscle-enhancers to get the look they desire.
The pressure to perform is now starting at an even earlier age for student athletes. Researchers at the University of Minnesota looked at more than 2,700 middle school and high school students and what they found was shocking.
Registered Dietician Kate Patton with the Cleveland Clinic said, “Boys and girls were both using steroids and other types of substances."
It turns out 90 percent of the boys in the study exercised to increase their muscle mass or tone. But more than a third of them used protein powders and shakes, 6 percent reported using steroids, and another 10 percent said they used some other muscle enhancing substance. Students we spoke with weren’t surprised.
Eusebio Echeveste is a senior at West High School. He said, “I actually see it. You can see people trying to be tough and stronger than they think they are.”
The boys weren’t alone. 21 percent of the girls in the study admitted to using protein powders or shakes, about 5 percent used steroids, and about 6 percent say they've used some other muscle enhancing substance.
West sophomore Nina Buchanan said, “The pressure that’s put on people to perform well in sports is definitely high especially if you’re a star player on a team or you’re trying to get to that point.”
Researchers say sports physicals may be the place for health care providers to discuss the dangers of using these substances with athletes. Patton says teens should stick to getting protein from their diet.
"Educate them on what the protein sources are in their diet because you do get protein, not just from meat and dairy and animal products and eggs, but you're also getting them from whole grains, starches give you a little bit of protein, vegetables give you a little bit of protein."