American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition
American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition
October 26, 2015
2 min read

Despite warnings, creatine supplements endorsed for teens in health food stores

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WASHINGTON — Despite recommendations against pediatric creatine use by the AAP and American College of Sports Medicine, two-thirds of sales attendants at health food and vitamin supplement stores endorsed creatine for teenage customers, according to data presented at the 2015 AAP National Conference and Exhibition.

“Body image issues are becoming more prevalent for all ages and genders,” senior investigator Ruth Milanaik, DO, from the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, said in a press release. “Employees in stores that sell supplements must be educated regarding which specific products are safe for use by minors.”

While not conclusively proven in adolescents, previous studies in adults have indicated that high doses of creatine may cause renal and liver damage; these concerns are bolstered by surveys among high school athletes which found that many athletes routinely took higher than recommended doses during loading and maintenance phases of creatine use.

To determine how commonly health food stores suggested creatine supplementation for teenage customers, and assess the availability of supplements for purchase, Milanaik and colleagues surveyed 200 national chain retailers and 44 individually-owned stores nationwide, via telephone.

Identifying himself as a 15-year-old male high school football player interested in strength training, the principal researcher, Maguire Herriman, inquired about what supplements the sales attendant would recommend. If the sales attendant did not recommend creatine supplements at first, Herriman would specifically ask whether they would recommend creatine, and if it could be purchased without an adult.

According to survey results, researchers observed that:

  • 67.2% of sales attendants recommended creatine for a 15-year-old male athlete;
  • 38.5% recommended creatine without prompting;
  • When specifically asked, an additional 28.7% recommended creatine;
  • 74% of sales attendants said a 15-year-old could purchase creatine on their own;

Researchers noted no difference in creatine recommendations based on geographic region, but did find that national chain health food stores tended to recommend creatine less frequently (P = .088) than individually-owned stores.

“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,” Milanaik said. – by Bob Stott

For more information:

Milanaik RL. Abstract 31590. Presented at: AAP National Conference and Exhibition; Oct. 24-27, 2015; Washington, D.C.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.