Study Raises Questions About Muscle-Building Supplements Recommended to Teens

Jay_Zynism/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Some teenage boys may be taking muscle-building supplements that could have harmful side effects.

According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, approximately 12 percent of teenage boys say they have taken a muscle-building supplement in their lives. Many of those teens get information on those supplements from friends or health food stores.

A researcher posing as a 15-year-old boy called more than 200 health food stores in the United States to ask about recommended muscle-building supplements. According to the study, 38.5 percent of those stores recommended creatine without being prompted by the researcher. Another 28.7 percent recommended creatine after a prompt from the researcher.

The study also notes that two sales attendants recommended a testosterone booster without prompting, and nine percent recommended one after prompting.

Creatine and testosterone boosters can cause damage to the liver, kidney dysfunction, muscle cramps and high blood counts. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend against use of either supplement.

The sampling used in the study is small and not necessarily representative of the industry as a whole, but does indicate that recommending such potentially harmful supplements to teens may be a common practice at a number of stores.

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