Adolescent Boys Concerned About Muscles Who Use Supplements to Enhance Them More Likely to Binge Drink, Use Drugs


Media Advisory: To contact author Alison E. Field, Sc.D., call Erin Tornatore at 617-919-3110 or email

CHICAGO – Adolescent boys who are concerned about building muscle and who use supplements to enhance their physique were more likely than their peers to start binge drinking frequently and use drugs, according to a study published by JAMA Pediatrics, a JAMA Network publication.


Little is known about the prevalence of concerns about physique and eating disorders among boys because most of the research has been conducted among girls, according to the study background.


Alison E. Field, Sc.D., of Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues investigated whether adolescent boys with psychiatric symptoms related to concerns about their physique and disordered eating were more likely to become obese, start using drugs, consume alcohol frequently (binge drinking) or develop high levels of depressive symptoms. Data for the study came from questionnaires and included 5,527 boys who were between the ages of 12 to 18 years in 1999 and followed up until 2011.


Between 1999 and 2011, 9.2 percent of the boys reported high concern with muscularity but no bulimic behavior; 2.4 percent reported high concern about muscularity and used supplements, growth hormones or steroids to enhance their physique; 2.5 percent had high concern about thinness but no bulimic behavior; and 6.3 percent reported high concern about thinness and muscularity.


The study findings indicate that boys with high concern about thinness but not muscularity were more likely to develop high depressive symptoms; boys with high concern about muscularity and thinness were more likely than their peers to use drugs; and boys with high concern about muscularity who used products to enhance their physiques were more likely to start binge drinking frequently and using drugs.


“In summary, we observed that by late adolescence and young adulthood, 7.6 percent of males were extremely focused on wanting more toned or defined muscles and using potentially unhealthy  products at least monthly to improve their physiques. This large group has been understudied in research and may be entirely missed by health care providers because they are not captured by the DSM-IV or the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for eating disorders,” the authors conclude.

(JAMA Pediatr. Published online November 4, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.2915. Available pre-embargo to the media at


Editor’s Note: Data collection and analysis for this study were supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

#  #  #

For more information, contact JAMA Network Media Relations at 312-464-JAMA (5262) or email