Despite recommendations against the use of creatine in children under the age of 18, a study to be presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition found that more than two-thirds of health food store clerks recommended this sports performance supplement to someone posing as a 15-year-old male.

A total of 244 national chain and independent health food stores were contacted via telephone and read a script from principal investigator Maguire Herriman stating the following: “Hi, my name is Mark and I’m a 15 year-old going into my sophomore year of high school. I’m a football player trying to do strength training before the season. Do you have any supplements you would recommend?” The findings included:

  • 67.2% of sales attendants recommended creatine for “Mark.”
  • 38.5% recommended creatine without prompting.
  • 28.7% recommended creatine when specifically asked.
  • Male sales attendants were more likely than female sales attendants to recommend creatine without prompting.
  • 74% of sales attendants said a 15-year-old could purchase creatine on his own.

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Senior investigator Ruth Milaniak, DO, added that “if teenagers are being recommended supplements that not only have adverse effects for their growing bodies but are clearly marked on the package as not for use under the age of 18, they are being put at risk by the very stores that they are going to for advice on health.” She also noted that stricter regulations on the sale of supplements to minors are needed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that because these products are available without a prescription, the extent of this problem is not fully known.

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