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Increasing Fear Over Teenage Usage of Protein Supplements


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In a world dominated by social media and celebrity culture, it is no surprise that there are increasing societal pressures of having to look good. Having to have the same haircut as the current “in” celebrity, or to have the same physical shape as an “elite athlete”. Many people will go to extremes to achieve their ideal look, or to look like their favourite celebrity. Now it has become apparent that teenagers using protein supplements to aid “getting fit” or “bulking up” are putting their health at risk.

In a recent BBC interview, Cerith Evans, a personal trainer, said he believed a record increase in supplament abuses stemmed from social media putting pressure on young people to use supplements to gain the perfect body.

"In the last five to six years when social media has gone so massive you can't really scroll through Facebook or Instagram without seeing a man with a top off or someone in great shape," said Evans.

"I think you have to look a certain way to be accepted which is a bad way of looking at it."

We all probably no someone ourselves, who is a bit of a gym fanatic and striving for peak physical condition. There is no issue going to the gym or exercising frequently, yet it is bad to abuse supplements, or use them incorrectly, particularly during your teenage years.

Issues have now been raised around the safety of supplements for younger people, stemming from a lack of testing across the board.The intended destination for supplements has almost always been for professional athletes, a stance which the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance reaffirms.

Research by marketing firm mintel, makes for some interesting reading. Their results found that 12% of people in the UK take supplements for exercise. This is with 23% of men aged between 16 and 24 while 18% of women aged between 16-24 stating they use supplements.

The Chairman of the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance when speaking to the BBC stated: “These products are intended for use by sports people who have differing and more specific nutritional needs to the general public to help them perform to their best ability.

“They do not represent a risk to one’s general health as long as they are used for the correct reason and in the correct dosages.”

So what happens now?

Tighter Regulation on supplements, not too dissimilar to the recent legislation introduced surrounding energy drinks, even if it is a temporary measure until wider testing is completed?  A more comprehensive testing protest, incorporating the ever changing makeup in society? Tighter social media regulations in a bid to limit its impact upon society? All of these propositions seem very wishful, unlikely and a tad extreme, yet not completely insane.

Nevertheless the message is clear, take care when using supplements, use the correct dosage as well as the right reasons.

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