How big is the youth APED problem? Vol. 2
In my first blog post on this subject, I shared the most current data that exists on anabolic steroid usage among high school students. To review, the current data shows that about 7% of high school students admit to using anabolic steroids.
Let’s look at some associated data that makes this high school data more meaningful. In 2013, Digital Citizens Alliance of Washington, DC worked with Zogby to conduct a study among males age 18-26. The results:
- 8% have “ever taken PEDs, e.g., steroids or human growth hormones (hGH)”
- 8% know “someone else that has used” (Think about this for a moment – either the 8% is a gross underestimate of males in this age group that are actually using steroids or the 27.8% of the sample group all know the same group of users – not likely.)
Conclusion: The Digital Citizens Alliance / Zogby data are remarkably consistent with the Partnership for Drug Free Kids study in 2014 that shows 7% of high school students admit using.
APED Data for Subgroups of Users
Let’s look at data for a subgroup of kids that are using steroids. In 2014, Pediatrics Magazine published the results of a study from Fenway Institute at Harvard University. The Fenway Institute team found that >21% of gay and bi-sexual boys admit to using anabolic steroids. In my 13 years working with this topic, not much shocks me anymore. However, I have to admit that I was blown away to learn that more than one out of five members of this group are using these dangerous drugs. Some of my friends who are members of this community tell me that they believe that this number underestimates what’s really going on in this community.
Additional data points: the Journal of Adolescent Health published the heavy use of anabolic steroids among adolescent boys with “self-perceived weight problems”. According to this 2015 report, 12.6% of boys that perceive themselves being underweight resort to anabolic steroids to help them gain weight. 11.9% of those boys that view themselves as being overweight use anabolic steroids to assist in weight loss.
I can go on and on with statistics. But, at this point, I hope I’ve convinced you that there is enough data that exists about anabolic steroid use to conclude that this is a huge problem. These usage rates border on epidemic levels.
Before I wrap up, let me point out that none of these numbers include the population of users of over-the-counter dietary supplements who are unknowingly ingesting anabolic steroids. Yes, I’m referring to what you are afraid I might be talking about – I’m talking about the protein powders, creatine and other body-building products purchased at your local health food store.
Why am I bringing up dietary supplements?
Multiple studies conducted in countries conducted across the world show that 18-25% of dietary supplements are spiked with real anabolic steroids!
I’ll dig into the topic of unregulated dietary supplements in future blogs.
- The JAMA On Men’s Body Image Issues
- Taylor’s Story: Part 1