Boys, steroids and the new ideal body

A new study from the University of Minnesota found that 5.9 percent of teen boys in Minneapolis and Saint Paul had used steroids. The researchers surmised that the influx of images of pumped-up men from David Beckham to 50 Cent affected boys idea of what their body should look like. In fact, 90 percent of boys reported that they were working on building body mass.

We’re talking about that study, boys and body image at 9:06.

Here’s what Kerri wants to know: If you’re a teen or a young adult, do you see friends and fellow students using steroids? Why do young people do it? Do you think our ideas about body image are changing?

If you are a parent who thinks your son may have an eating disorder or might be using steroids, here are some tips from Common Sense Media:

• Check in. Ask your son whether his friends use risky methods to control their weight. Since boys will talk more easily about other people than themselves, you can get more information by asking about what friends do. Ask: Are any of your friends using steroids or supplements? Working out too much? Talking about “purging” after a pig out? If so, ask your son how he feels about it and whether he’s ever been tempted to engage in any of this behavior.

• Check for signs. Sudden weight loss (or gain), dramatically increased workouts, large muscle growth, and radically altered eating patterns are just a few signs of eating disorders or potential steroid or supplement use. If you think your son is at risk, make a doctor’s appointment immediately. This is critical not only for your son’s health but also for his mental well being, since eating disorders create a lot of feelings of shame. Sometimes your child might be more forthcoming with a health professional than with you, for fear of either letting you down or being criticized.

–Stephanie Curtis, social media host

  • Julie

    In my 7th grade math class, each year we analyzed how proportional children’s dolls and action figures were. Fashion dolls were the big winners in the out of proportion contests until a few years ago. Barbie’s crazy thinness has nothing on Batman Beyond’s ridiculous shoulder to waist ratio. There are clear changes in the messages we are sending to boys about their bodies, and those messages are going in the wrong direction.

  • Dave Brandt

    Don’t forget about the “cheater” mentality that is so prevalent, with young men in particular. Many are unwilling to put in the actual effort to be successful and seek short cuts.

    You see this not only in athletics but academics as well.

    I agree with your guests about questioning the data about middle school boys, not a very reliable source.

  • Anonymous

    As a mom of the smallest kid on the JV football team, I worry about this. He is constantly reminded by his peers and coaches that he needs to grow and get stronger if he expects to play.

  • eric

    It’s not a problem in the least. As opposed to some of the image problems for our young women, the only way to achieve the bulked up image is by being healthy! Working out, eating clean, protein rich foods, and monitoring calories in vs calories out to achieve that look puts a young man FAR ahead of his peers in regards to his health.

  • Brenda

    I think our whole society is too image focused no matter which gender you identify with. It is stressed too much by our media and social structures that state people have to look good to be liked. The whole innerself and mind are completely taken out of the equation. It is a shallow way to live your life.

  • Mike n

    I support the idea of a de-competitiveness of sports. Unfortunately it starts at the top, and therefore pressure is applied and examples are set for college and highschool players. You can still be competitive without a coach with a 6, 7 figure salary and a budget that annexes educational funding. Sports should be fun, not the tooth grinding year-round demand that sports have turned into.

    A caller brought up the point of sports being inaccessible to people who are not as dedicated or in that select range of physical requirements that even normal high school sports have evolved into. Those kids are too young to throw everything else overboard for some temporary success in hockey, football, lacrosse, soccer or whatever.

  • Joel Marty

    Remember Lyle Alzado from Texas. He was an incredible defensive player for the Raiders and used steroids for twenty years and later became a decently successful actor in maybe twenty-five movies and TV series.

    He died at age 43 and solely blamed his heavy steroid use. He was one of the first major US sports figures to admit to using anabolic steroids. In the last years of his life, as he battled against the brain tumor that eventually caused his death, Alzado asserted that his steroid abuse directly led to his fatal illness. Shortly before his death, Alzado recounted his steroid abuse in an article in Sports Illustrated,

    “I started taking anabolic steroids in 1969 and never stopped. It was addicting, mentally addicting. Now I’m sick, and I’m scared. Ninety percent of the athletes I know are on the stuff. We’re not born to be 300 lb (140 kg) or jump 30 ft (9.1 m). But all the time I was taking steroids, I knew they were making me play better. I became very violent on the field and off it. I did things only crazy people do. Once a guy sideswiped my car and I beat the hell out of him. Now look at me. My hair’s gone, I wobble when I walk and have to hold on to someone for support, and I have trouble remembering things. My last wish? That no one else ever dies this way.”

    Alzado died at age forty-three. He was our generation’s most effective voice against the use of steroids.

  • Anonymous

    It used to be a rarity for NFL football players to weigh over 300 pounds. Now there are 300 pound players on every Division III team. How did they get so big?

    My son played Division III college football about five years ago. When he started playing college ball, he noted that there were players who could lift 150 more pounds than he could, even though he was a state weightlifting champion.

    Soon he learned why.

    The older players took him aside and showed him vials of steroids. They said the trick was to start juicing after the season was over. Then you’ll come to camp and win a spot on the team. Then taper off your steroids, because they start testing in the season, if you make the play offs.

    He thought the coaches had to now. Many of the assistants were recent players who were juicers. The drop off in strength during the season was obvious. My son played a season and quit, knowing that he’d never get a shot at playing time if he too didn’t juice. …..