For a study in the February 2017 issue of Pediatrics, a researcher posed as a 15-year-old football player trying to build muscle and phoned 244 health food stores to ask whether he should take the popular sports performance supplement creatine.
Despite recommendations against using the supplement under age 18 by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Sports Medicine, more than two-thirds (67%) of sales attendants in stores nationwide told him to give it a try.
The study, "Dietary Supplements and Young Teens: Misinformation and Access Provided by Retailers," will be published online Jan. 2.
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound involved in the body's energy production. In this study, nearly 40% of store workers recommended creatine without prompting, while an additional 29% recommended it when specifically asked. Male sales attendants were more likely than female sales attendants to recommend creatine without prompting, and 74% of sales attendants said the 15-year-old could purchase creatine on his own.
Study authors said pediatricians should inform their teenage patients, especially athletes, about safe and healthy methods to improve athletic performance and discourage them from using creatine or testosterone boosters because of unknown long-term effects. They also urged retailers and state legislatures to consider banning the sale of these products to minors.