Quest for "perfect body" could put your teen at risk

By: Brian Shlonsky Email
By: Brian Shlonsky Email

For your teens' health, it's important to get them off the couch and into an active life style, but a new report shows too much working out could be putting some kids at risk.

For years, many parents have worried about the eating habits of
their young daughters, but now you should also take a closer look at your teenage boys.

"Better to be bulky than skinny," said Scott Knowlden, who says he’s been hitting the gym since he was 14 years old. "I started working out because I saw a lot of people that were a lot bigger than me, and they looked pretty great, so I was trying to get
my body to look like them and get as healthy as I could."

But according to a new study, some teen boys are actually taking unhealthy measures in the quest to get ripped. The Journal of Pediatrics reports that 40 percent of middle and high school boys say they regularly exercise with the goal of increasing
muscle mass. Thirty- eight percent say they use protein supplements, and six percent claim they've even experimented with steroids.

Mark Ryan is the assistant director of fitness at Gold's Gym, and he said there isn't a problem with kids working out at a young age.

"It's about developing a foundation for the kids as they get a little bit older, maybe high school age, then they can start to really push, but at the younger age it's more about having them learn what's right what's wrong, it's not about how much can I lift," Ryan said.

But Ryan said the protein can wait, especially because supplements aren't regulated in the same way as drugs, so it's hard to know what's in them.

"I don't ever recommend supplements for anybody under 18. It's more important for kids that age to focus on a healthy overall diet as opposed to taking a lot of supplements and getting a lot of protein," Ryan said.

Even though Knowlden started taking protein at age 16, he said he
took that advice, waiting to get in on other supplements.

"Just because I was a little bit younger, and my body still needed to develop and I didn't want to push it," he said.

Some experts said if teens are too focused on protein and other supplements, they'll miss out on other nutrients needed to develop and grow their bodies.

Health experts said it is still important to keep your teens active, but at younger ages it should be more focused around sports and games, and if your youngster is hitting the gym, their workouts should be supervised to avoid injury.


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