Theme 2: Why PAES Are So Popular

This Theme explores – in two Sessions – the reasons behind the increased use of PAES along with the role of ‘enhancement society’, images, advertising and media on PAES popularity. The Sessions are designed to have an open dialogue about how the advertisement industry and social media often only offer a modified version of the ‘reality’ with the aim to push people to buy supplements either to achieve appearance related-standards or to enhance their performance in sport/fitness field. The message that is given overtly or covertly by society is that the best, perhaps the only way to obtain ‘perfection’ – regardless of the field – is by using PAES. The sessions are set out to demonstrate that society-made expectations are mostly not realistic. Participants in these sessions are challenged to think critically about reasons to use PAES and if PAES is not the only solution then to actively seek possible alternatives and solutions. These alternatives may very well be centred on having a more realistic individual view of what is ‘perfect’, set or readjust their expectations and set realistic individual goals.

This Theme contributes to critical health literacy by developing self-efficacy to make informed and holistic choices about PAES by encouraging young people to understand that striving for what others suggest or imply is not necessary; and by developing personally relevant plans for performance and/or appearance goal achievements. The Theme promotes the notion that everybody is different and has different needs, thus each individual must be responsible for his/her body and health.