Reporting Rachel Slavik
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A University of Minnesota study in Pediatrics finds teen steroid abuse is rising. It’s not just student athletes who are using the drug. Steroid abuse was also found in groups that don’t play sports.
The study, called Project Eat, researchers surveyed more than 2,700 students in the Minneapolis school district. They found that 5.9 percent of boys and 4.6 percent of girls said they had used steroids.
As a sports medicine physician for Fairview Health, Dr. Jamie Peters sometimes sees signs of the dangerous path students take to stand out.
“There is certain tip-offs. Acne. Sometimes, on the male athletes will actually develop breast tissue,” said Dr. Jamie Peters, of Fairview Sports and Orthopedic Care. “This dangerous and risky behavior.”
Students in middle school through high school were asked about increasing their muscle size or tone in the past year. Use of steroids or other muscle building substances were among the five choices.
“In some of the more harmful behaviors, like steroid use, we had about 4, 5, 6 percent of young people saying they’re involved in this,” said Marla Eisenberg, a University of Minnesota researcher.
The research showed Eisenberg that it’s a trend tried by both boys and girls, athletes as well as non-athletes and race didn’t matter.
“Asian American youth had higher rates of steroid use in particular,” said Eisenberg.
Eisenberg also believes the research that points to body image concerns among young people.
“We’re seeing a lot more athletes, and celebrities, and male models that have bigger and much more tone and buff looking figures. We’re seeing them everywhere,” said Eisenberg.
The study did not ask where the students got the steroids, but researchers believe the information that could also open the door to opportunity.
“I think one of the messages we want to take out of this is to really get this on people’s radar,” said Eisenberg.
The research found about 34 percent of boys and 21 percent of girls turned to protein shakes. Also, the research did show altered eating and exercise habits are the common way kids changed their body size.