We typically assume that eating disorders are most common among teenage girls. It turns out that we might be underestimating the way that body image affects both genders.
A recent study shows a stronger link between body image and destructive behaviors in teenage boys than many people might have expected.
In American culture, the phrase “eating disorder” often brings to mind the image of a teenage girl or young woman. We have come to link body image and eating disorders with women. In the light of new studies, it seems that it is time to rethink our associations.
Teen guys are facing real struggles with their weight, body image and appearance. They’re going to extremes to improve their appearance — and taking risks that affect their health.
Teenage Boys are at Risk in Ways we Don’t Realize
We’ve learned about the eating disorders common in teen girls, but guys have different goals than their female peers. Guys in high school and college are usually trying to build muscle and stay lean. So, they’re going to display different habits than girls.
Researchers also examined how the teen males in the study who were highly concerned with their body image chose to engage in unhealthy activities. They looked at recreational drug use and alcohol use. Researchers found that there might be an unhealthy pattern among teen boys with body image issues.
“The results from this study would suggest that males who are extremely concerned about their physiques are doing or using things that may or may not be healthy”
Body Image and Drug Use
Young men are thinking about their bodies a lot — and many of them are comfortable using products to improve their appearance. Whether they’re using supplements or other drugs, they are trying to change their bodies.
This trend is concerning, but we should use the research to our advantage. Parents should be aware of their children’s perceptions of their bodies. Take an active interest in their behavior, and look out for any signs that teens are trying to alter their bodies. Since drug use may be linked to boys and body image, it’s especially important to help your children build positive body images.