Most adolescents have selfish reasons for not using their body care products

Many adolescents and young adults engage in customized body care products so they never confront their own self-esteem or develop a self-image worthy of respect researchers conclude.

The findings were published Aug. 30 in the journal Pediatrics.

Theres been a lot of focus on the physical health of teens and young adults but our findings suggest that many adolescents have their own noteworthy reasons for not using their body-focused products said Dr. Christopher Rhodes lead author of the study and a researcher at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

The researchers analyzed survey data collected between 1999 and 2014 from 1164 13-year-olds and adolescents who volunteered to participate in the study. Of those 74 reported using 30-day health care products since age 13.

Thats similar to the rate of use reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention according to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions National Center for Health Statistics and Public Health Reports. The CDC report favors self-esteem increases among women and men but does not quantify the impact of self-esteem development from a child.

Of youth who self-identified as nonusers of body-focused products 56 reported never sharing toy-related items with peers in public spaces. Among inner-city black males the proportion reporting only once or twice sharing toy with peers declined to 88 in the decade after the major shift in body-focused products.

The percentage reporting weekly use of non-surgical plasticplastic products increased from 52 in 1999 to 72 in 2014 the study also found.

Of sport-related body-related products the percentage reporting weekly use dropped from 76 in 1999 to 75 in 2014 but increased to 88 among adolescent boys.

For girls the drop was less dramatic from 98 in 1999 to 84 in 2014. Among boys however the percentage reporting weekly use remained high at 72 the study found.

Body-focused products pose special challenges to adolescents as they are all about manipulating and exploration their desired sex features the researchers conclude.

Adolescents may see the body as a collection of attributes the study authors write compared to other constructs such as skin or body image if you will.

Body-focused products interact with teens own sexual fantasies about their desired sexual partners and shape their views on certain body attributes the study suggests.

Highly publicized industry claims about the safety and efficacy of these products encourage sexually active adolescents to take preventative steps to reduce their odds of testing positive for the growth restriction syndrome the study authors write.

In the United States which has some of the harshest gun laws in the developed world including a long-standing ban on most handgun purchases deaths resulting from firearm-related injuries are widespread and include teenagers. In the case of a 2014 shooting in Ohio one teen killed two and wounded three. Since 2003 at least 17 such deaths have resulted in 13 shootings.

To prevent these tragedies and to minimize the chances that teens experience heart disease or stroke following such trauma the researchers recommend counseling older adolescents about the efficacy and safety of body-focused products.