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June 16, 2011

3 Min Read
We Didnt Even Have Gatorade

To be sure, nutrition science has come a long way since my playing days, said NFL Hall of Fame hit-meister Dick Butkus, in his talk at the Dietary Supplement Caucus briefing on Sports Nutrition: The Science and Safety of Dietary Supplements, held on Capitol Hill yesterday. we didnt even have Gatorade. About the more recent complexities of dietary supplementation, he said teens, their parents and coaches have increasing interest and questions about supplements.

Lets be very clear about one thing: dietary supplements are not steroids, and steroids are not dietary supplements, Butkus stated, noting there is a legitimate rule for supplements. But there is no place for products that are tainted with steroids or prescription drugs, and are then illegally marketed as dietary supplementssome of this stuff people have tried to sell is so bad it gives snake oil a bad name.

He said it is difficult for athletes, coaches and parents to know what supplements are safe and beneficial to take. Sure you can look at law-abiding companies and products that are tested by third-parties, he said, but added there is an easier way. He asked the government to keep up the enforcement efforts, but acknowledged these efforts will never fully control this problem and catch every criminal in this area. He suggested educating teens and athletes about steroids would be an even greater solution, as will supporting efforts to show teens how to eat well and train properly.

Use steroids for a period of time, and you will become a heart patient, he promised. He cited recent research from the Orange County Heart Institute (published in the Journal of Preventive Cardiology) that found bodybuilders who used steroids for many years have heart calcification of someone 30 years their senior. Disturbingly, he also cited research from the University of Michigan showing more than 300,000 teens used steroids in the past 12 months. He said the government, sports authorities, industry and states have all made great strides, but current surveys indicate 1-in-3 teens say it is easy to access steroids. Its as close as the internet and a credit card, Butkus quipped.

He supports I Play Clean as one way to address the problem that most teens received no formal education on steroids. The program has distributed literature to about 10,000 high schools, reaching about 112 million teens, and has outreach including a website, hundreds of radio and TV interviews, and a presence at major sports clinics and events. Weve Kicked up plenty of dust, he assured, noting the program is entering into an important phase. We are actively sharing information about what are better alternatives to steroids, he said. Steroids are illegal because they are harmful; Better alternatives can be found in nutrition and safe supplements, training and playing with attitude.

The Dietary Supplement Caucus is supported by a joint trade effort, including the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), Natural Products Association (NPA), United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) and American Herbal Products Association (AHPA).

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