NEW YORK--In a study published in the August Pediatrics (108, 2: 421-5, 2001) (www.pediatrics.org), researchers found that almost as many 11th and 12th graders are taking creatine as are collegiate athletes. The Associated Press (AP) reported the study's findings, which were then picked up by The New York Times (www.nytimes.com) and The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com).
The researchers, led by Jordan Metzl, M.D., from Cornell Medical College, surveyed 1,103 athletes in the New York area between the ages of 10 and 18. Approximately 5.6 percent of participants admitted to taking creatine; the reasons most cited for using the supplement included enhancing performance (74.2 percent of users) and improving appearance (61.3 percent of users). The most common reason for not taking creatine among non-users was safety (45.7 percent). And according to Metzl et al, 44 percent of high school senior athletes reported using creatine, compared to 28 percent of collegiate athletes.
The study also supported previous findings that more males (8.8 percent) than females (1.8 percent) use the supplement. Researchers found that creatine use was most common among football players, wrestlers, hockey players, gymnasts and lacrosse players.
"If this study is representative [of the entire U.S. population], there are probably over two million American kids and teens taking creatine to give themselves a competitive edge," stated Metzl in a press release from Cornell. "Not only can creatine use lead to steroid use, but we have no idea whether or not creatine is safe."
The study's authors concluded that until the safety of creatine has been established for those who are 18 and under, adolescents should be discouraged from using this supplement.
"When teenagers start seeing their friends get bigger and stronger, they want to take what they're taking," said Anthony Almada, M.Sc., founder and chief scientific officer of Laguna Niguel, Calif.-based IMAGINutrition. In regard to if adolescents should be taking creatine, Almada stated that there have been only three (one including a person under 18) reported cases of kidney problems associated with creatine consumption. "Given that kids eat a lot of meat, which contains a significant amount of creatine, I foresee one day when the research points to creatine as being something that could be considered a safe sports enhancer."