Despite the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations against pediatric use of creatine and testosterone boosters, research suggests that many young teenagers take these dietary supplements. Our objective was to determine to what extent health food stores would recommend and/or sell creatine and testosterone boosters to a 15-year-old boy customer.
Research personnel posing as 15-year-old high school athletes seeking to increase muscle strength contacted 244 health food stores in the United States via telephone. Researchers asked the sales attendant what supplements he/she would recommend. If a sales attendant did not mention creatine or testosterone boosters initially, each of these supplements was then specifically asked about. Supplement recommendations were recorded. Sales attendants were also asked if a 15-year-old could purchase these products on his own in the store.
A total of 67.2% (164/244) of sales attendants recommended creatine: 38.5% (94/244) recommended creatine without prompting, and an additional 28.7% (70/244) recommended creatine after being asked specifically about it. A total of 9.8% (24/244) of sales attendants recommended a testosterone booster. Regarding availability for sale, 74.2% (181/244) of sales attendants stated a 15-year-old was allowed to purchase creatine, whereas 41.4% (101/244) stated one could purchase a testosterone booster.
Health food store employees frequently recommend creatine and testosterone boosters for boy high school athletes. In response to these findings, pediatricians should inform their teenage patients, especially athletes, about safe, healthy methods to improve athletic performance and discourage them from using creatine or testosterone boosters. Retailers and state legislatures should also consider banning the sale of these products to minors.