Body image at heart of teens’ steroid abuse
FEMALES have always taken the cake - or rather left it alone - when it comes to obsessing over body image, but this time it is the blokes making headlines.
Schoolboys, some as young as 13, are said to be experimenting with anabolic steroids in order to build muscle mass, and the problem is not confined to the cities.
Maclean personal trainer and TNT Supplements store owner Kris Thomsen said while he had not had any personal run-ins with young boys taking steroids, there were definitely signs of it happening in the Clarence Valley.
"There has been a lot of talk about it over the past month or two and while it hasn't been linked to any particular gym, it has been brought up in general," Mr Thomsen said.
"I was talking to a lady at one of the high schools in the region and she said there were a few kids who were quite knowledgeable about steroids - the specific names for them and what they did for the body.
"She was pretty shocked because this is 15-17 year-old kids who seem to know a hell of a lot about them."
Mr Thomsen said it was the pressure to "be big and strong" that prompted males to dabble with illegal steroids.
"I think back in the day the pressure was to get that extra sporting edge over other athletes, but nowadays it's more about body image," Mr Thomsen said.
"It is a way to cheat and get gains quickly, but it comes with a whole lot of negative side effects."
Roid rage, acne, impotence, internal body damage and man-boobs are just a few of the side effects steroids can cause.
When younger boys use steroids, it can stunt their growth and mess with their physical development.
Mr Thomsen said it was a short-term fix that did far more harm than good.
"You can generally tell if someone is taking steroids by their body transformation - a massive increase in muscle mass and weight," he said.
"But once they have finished their course of steroids, which is usually about 12 weeks, they tend to lose weight rapidly and lose a lot of that muscle mass they just put on over the first few months."
Mr Thomsen said those who wanted to cheat their way to bulking up should think twice.
"If you're dedicated to training and you eat right, you can get results in the same amount of time without all the harsh side effects that come with steroids," he advised.