Fear of being too skinny may put teen boys at risk

Jan. 13, 2014 at 11:40 PM

BOSTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Teenage boys who say they are underweight and bullied are more likely to use steroids and feel depressed than other boys their age, U.S. researchers say.

Study leader Aaron Blashill, staff psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and faculty member at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said distorted body image among adolescent boys is often underreported.

"Teenage girls tend to internalize and strive for a thin appearance, whereas teenage boys tend to emphasize a more muscular body type," Blashill said in a statement. "We found that some of these boys who feel they are unable to achieve that often unattainable image are suffering and may be taking drastic measures."

Blashill used two large, nationally representative samples of U.S. teenage boys.

Boys who perceived themselves as underweight were more likely to be victims of bullying and report more depressive symptoms which, in turn, predicted steroid use.

The findings were published in the journal Psychology of Men & Masculinity.

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