A study of youths in the Minnesota area has yielded some unsettling results, showing that roughly five percent of high school and middle school students have used anabolic steroids to bulk up.
Minnesota Public Radio reports that the University of Minnesota surveyed 2,700 adolescents enrolled in middle school and high school in St. Paul and Minneapolis for the study. Marla Eisenberg was the lead author of the University of Minnesota study.
Reuters adds that more than one-third of boys and one-fifth of girls over used protein shakes or powders in addition to using non-steroid muscle enhancers like creatine. The majority of the students in the study were poor or middle class, meaning it isn’t only the wealthy who have found access to illegal steroids.
Another interesting factor, students who do not play sports were just as likely as their student-athlete counterparts to use steroids.
“We’ve got some young people and in some cases pretty young, young people — we’re looking at middle schoolers — who say they are using some of these pretty risky substances in order to increase their muscularity,” Eisenberg said. “And that’s something we need to be paying attention to.”
The study also found that Asian students were three to four times more likely to have used steroids in the past year than their white counterparts.
It was not clear if the findings would apply similarly to areas outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Even in the area of the study, the steroid use by youths was not concentrated in any one school.
“Rather than being driven by a particular school sports team coach or other features of a school’s social landscape, this diffusion suggests that muscle-enhancing behaviors are widespread and influenced by factors beyond school, likely encompassing social and cultural variables such as media messages and social norms of behavior more broadly,” the researchers wrote.
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