July 05, 2016
1 min read

AAP: Education key to curbing teen use of performance-enhancing substances

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The AAP recently released a clinical report that reviewed the current state of performance-enhancing substance abuse among adolescents and identified prevention education as the best strategy for reducing use.

“Performance-enhancing substances (PESs) are used commonly by children and adolescents in attempts to improve athletic performance,” Michele LaBotz, MD, FAAP, and Bernard A. Griesemer, MD, FAAP, lead authors of the AAP’s Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness Executive Committee, wrote in the report. “This report reviews the current epidemiology of PES use in the pediatric population, as well as information on those PESs in most common use.”

Michele LaBotz

Michele LaBotz

The committee found that the use of PESs increases as adolescents get older and is more prevalent among athletes than nonathletes. They reported that use of PESs is most often motivated by a desire to improve athletic performance and appearance. The committee stated that boys are at a higher risk for PES use than girls for most substances. Teens also can be at risk for PES use if they experience body dissatisfaction, have a higher BMI, train in commercial gyms, are exposed to appearance-focused fitness training media, abuse other substances or participate in other risk-taking behaviors.

According to the report, protein supplements, creatine and caffeine are the PESs most commonly used among adolescents. The authors noted that PESs are available as over-the-counter dietary supplements; however, other substances, such as anabolic steroids and synthetic prohormones, can only be acquired illegally. The authors stated that initial use of over-the-counter supplements may be associated with an increased risk for use of anabolic steroids.

LaBotz, Griesemer and colleagues recommended prevention education strategies that focus on the lack of proven health and performance benefits associated with use of PESs. They stated that adherence to appropriate nutrition and training regimens produces comparable athletic gains.

“Prevention efforts that are directed solely at avoidance of adverse consequences of PES use (ie, getting caught, cost) are likely to be less effective than efforts that focus on the lack of realized benefit for users of PES,” the committee wrote. “Educating athletes and families on basic training principles for pursuit of peak athletic performance may be helpful and should be emphasized as an alternative to PES use.” by David Costill

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.