Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"Muscular Body Image Lures Boys Into Gym, and Obsession" Research Report

            Douglas Quenqua, author of “Muscular Body Image Lures Boys Into Gym, and Obsession”, is a freelance writer whose work often appears in The New York Times and The New York Post. His stories range from fashion to science and are usually written with a human-interest angle. Quenqua carries over this angle to his stories regarding personal health and wellness. Muscular Body exposes the change of attitudes teenage boys have toward the male body image, and the consequences of these new attitudes. Quenqua explores how the new ideal is to be “fat-free and chiseled” according to Dr. Harrison Pope of Harvard. This comes as a concern to many pediatricians, as boys who have not finished growing may end up stunting their growth through lifting, or worse, consume harmful steroids to bolster results.
            This article is no departure from Quenqua’s usual writings involving personal health. He has the tendency to target a specific demographic, whether it is teenage boys or corporate businessmen, and expose a problem that primarily affects that group. These articles usually appear in the “Health” section of The New York Times, and focus on the new alarming trend and the implications of that trend continuing.
            The subject Quenqua decides to use in his story exemplifies the concerns of pediatricians that Quenqua cites. David Abusheikh started lifting weights when he was 15 years old, an age where growing muscles are susceptible to being stunted. He uses supplements that concern medical professionals due to the lack of regulation. A quick search on Abusheikh’s Facebook page reveals multiple photos of him shirtless, showing his obsession with obtaining that “Charles Atlas” body. Quenqua uses Abusheikh to put a face to the problem he is presenting.
            “Muscular Body” coincides with a report released on the same day in the journal Pediatrics titled “Muscle-enhancingBehaviors Among Adolescent Girls and Boys.” The story uses the report for multiple facts, but Quenqua uses the report for more than just numbers. The report makes Quenqua’s story relevant, and provides a reason for Quenqua to write his article in the first place. The report supplements the story with facts like “more than 40 percent of boys in middle school and high school said they regularly exercised with the goal of increasing muscle mass,” legitimizing the problem Quenqua presents.
            While Quenqua’s article targets weight-lifting teenage boys and girls, his audience is much larger. This is evident by the response to the article, highlighted by a piece done on NBC’s The Today Show. The Today Show, with a daily audience of over one million, saw the importance of “Muscular Body” and ran a two minute and 45 second segment profiling Abusheikh with comments provided by Quenqua. The attention given to Quenqua’s report proves that the problems associated with teenage weightlifting are concerning to quite a large audience, namely parents of teenagers.
            The article itself should not be seen as controversial or provocative. The majority of the article is an exposure of the Pediatrics study. Quenqua sees the problems in the study as important, and uses his position in the media to relay these problems to the greater public.

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