Steroid use among adolescents: Findings from Project EAT

Lori M. Irving, Melanie Wall, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Mary Story

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

186 Scopus citations


Purpose: To explore the prevalence and correlates of using steroids for the purpose of gaining muscle among adolescent males and females. More specifically, the study objectives were to: (a) assess the prevalence of anabolic steroid use in a large population-based sample of adolescent males and females; and (b) identify personal, socio-environmental, and behavioral factors related to the health of adolescents that use anabolic steroids. Methods: The study population included 4746 middle and high school students from St. Paul/Minneapolis public schools who completed surveys and anthropometric measurements as part of a population-based study of eating patterns and weight concerns among teenagers (Project EAT: Eating Among Teens). Steroid use and a range of socio-environmental, personal, and behavioral factors hypothesized to be correlates of steroid use were assessed. Associations were examined separately among males and females through comparisons of means (unadjusted and adjusted for grade-level and race) for continuous variables, and percentages, and odds ratios for dichotomized variables. Results: Steroid use was more common in males (5.4%, vs. 2.9% of females), non-Caucasians (especially Hmong, a subset of the Asian-American population), and in middle school students (as compared to high school). In males, steroid use was associated with poorer self-esteem and higher rates of depressed mood and attempted suicide, poorer knowledge and attitudes about health, greater participation in sports that emphasize weight and shape, greater parental concern about weight, and higher rates of disordered eating and substance use. Among females, steroid use was less consistent in its associations with other variables, although overall, a similar pattern of results emerged. Conclusions: Anabolic steroid use in adolescence is associated with poorer health-related attitudes and behaviors and exposure to socio-environmental influences encouraging weight preoccupation. Attention needs to be directed toward youth who may be at increased risk for steroid use within clinical and community-based settings

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-252
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grant MCJ-270834 (D. Neumark-Sztainer, principal investigator) from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Service Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services.

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Adolescents
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Disordered eating
  • Gender differences


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