According to multiple studies presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in San Diego, CA, dietary supplements promoted and sold for weight loss and bodybuilding are often recommended to adolescents under the age of 18 despite labels stating that they are “for adult use only.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends against the use of body-shaping supplements by adolescents under the age of 18, although they can be legally purchased by minors in 49 states in the U.S. In three studies led by Ruth Milanaik, DO, from the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, NY, male and female testers called 244 independent and chain health food stores in 49 states and identified themselves as 15 years of age. In one study, 41% of sales attendants informed the callers that they could purchase dietary supplements marketed for boosting testosterone on their own; 9.8% of the attendants recommended a testosterone boosting products, although they are not advised for children under the age of 18 unless for documented medical purposes. In another study, sales attendants also frequently recommended supplements marketed for weight loss to female adolescents.

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The final study by Dr. Milanaik and colleagues recommends that local and national retailers re-educate employees on what products not to recommend for customers of certain ages and conditions based on the product label information.

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