December 13, 2004
Public Health Issue: Steroids and Kids
A Newsweek analysis of the data from the annual "Monitoring the Future" survey by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research found that more than 300,000 students between the eighth and 12th grades used steroids in 2003. And, as Newsweek reports in the current issue, they were not all jocks; as many as one third were girls, and experts say there is a growing problem of steroid use by boys whose heroes aren't baseball sluggers but the sinewy, rock-jawed models glowering from the pages of the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. This development led to the introduction of a new psychological diagnosis, muscle dysmorphia (sometimes called "reverse anorexia").
The survey suggests that the rate of steroid use by high-school students increased throughout the 1990s before dropping off slightly in 2003. An authority on youth sports, Dr. Jordan D. Metzl of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, calls steroid use "a burgeoning epidemic."
The University of Michigan study also found that the proportion of high-school seniors who consider steroids a "great risk" to their health actually dropped from 68 to 55 percent over the past five years. And Newsweek also reports that in talking to young athletes who did take steroids, it's striking how little notice their parents and coaches took of the changes taking shape before their eyes. "Coaches are oblivious to it," says California state Sen. Jackie Speier, who sponsored a bill to crack down on sales of dangerous supplements to minors, "some out of lack of knowledge, others because they don't want to know." Speier's bill was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- who has admitted using steroids in his own body-building career -- on the ground that dietary supplements were best left to the FDA.
December 13, 2004 | Permalink