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Body Image Worries Put Teenage Boys At Risk Of Bullying And Steroid Abuse

14/08/2014 16:57 | Updated 20 May 2015

Head against mirror

Teenage boys are suffering from body image issues in the same way as some girls, according to new research.

Many boys perceive themselves as too fat or too thin when they are a perfectly healthy weight.

But this negative image of themselves leads to many suffering from depression.

The American Psychological Association also found that teenagers who believe that they're underweight and are bullied because of it are more likely to use steroids.

The lead researcher behind the studies believes this proves how distorted body image is prevalent amongst boys as well as girls but often gets overlooked.

Aaron Blashill, PhD, staff psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and faculty member at Harvard Medical School, said: "These studies highlight the often under-reported issue of distorted body image among adolescent boys.

"Teenage girls tend to internalise and strive for a thin appearance, whereas teenage boys tend to emphasise a more muscular body type.

"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."

His study looked at 2,139 16-year-old boys in 1996 who were followed for 13 years. The boys were asked to rate their current weight ranging from 'very underweight' to 'very overweight', which researchers compared to the participants' BMI.

Those who perceived themselves as far too skinny, but were an average weight or higher, were the ones with the highest level of depressive symptoms.

He advised clinicians working with depressed teenage boys who feel they are being bullied for their underweight appearance should be mindful of steroid use.

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