A new study in Pediatrics brings mixed news:

The use of muscle-enhancing behaviors is substantially higher than has been previously reported and is cause for concern.

Basically the concern is that one-third of kids take protein supplements and nearly six percent take anabolic steroids in order to build muscle.  And this trend is occurring in girls as well as boys.

We can all agree that steroids to build muscles are dangerous and wrong:  an unhealthy  form of cheating.  And we should also agree that a prepubertal tween should not be bulking up.  But for adolescent boys and girls, increasing muscle mass in a thoughtfully supervised and natural way can be a positive endeavor for many who want to become stronger and quicker in their sports, and healthier in their lives.

And now, Cole Petrochko at MedPageToday reports on a study from Sweden:

Adolescents with high muscular strength had a lower risk of a premature death by age 55 or younger, researchers found.

Increasing muscle mass requires two basic ingredients:  the physiologic conditioning of muscle groups with regular and purposeful exercise (followed by appropriate rest for recovery) and dietary protein.  Many athletic trainers who work in U.S. high schools are excellent sources of information and supervision.  So are trainers at local health clubs.  You can even find athletic trainers who offer private sessions in their own homes.  Adolescent boys and girls who want to gain strength deserve attention by professionals who can set realistic and reasonable goals and provide ongoing supervision.  Nutritionally, parents can provide appropriate amounts of dietary protein (lean meats, dairy, nuts, legumes) that are whole (not processed) and healthy.  Adequate hydration with water is a must, important during exercising as well as accompanying high-protein meals.

Building up strength takes the commitment of time and the dedication of purpose, two admirable traits parents should try to instill in their children.  There are no quick and easy methods, and nothing comes for free.  We can help kids discover that they can achieve their goals in life in an honest and healthy way.

Pediatrics article on muscle-enhancing behaviors in teens here.

List of abstracts from Pediatrics concerning strength training here.

Read about Swedish study here.