* OBJECTIVE Our goals were to determine the prevalence of ergogenic supplement use in a young healthy population and to examine the extent to which supplement use is associated with specific health risk behaviors.
* STUDY DESIGN We performed a cross-sectional survey.
* POPULATION Individuals entering military service for enlisted training were included.
* OUTCOMES MEASURED We recorded previous use of any nutritional ergogenic supplements and self-reported health risk behaviors.
* RESULTS Of 550 eligible participants, 499 completed the survey (91% response rate). Individuals who used ergogenic supplements were more likely to drink alcohol (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=1.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-3.1), more likely to drink heavily (AOR=2.4; 95% CI, 1.5-3.9), more likely to ride in a vehicle with someone who had been drinking (AOR=2.2; 95% CI, 1.3-3.6), more likely to drive after drinking (AOR=2.4; 95% CI, 1.3-4.4), and more likely to have been in a physical fight (AOR=1.9; 95% CI, 1.0-3.5), compared with those who had not used supplements. Men were more likely to use supplements than women (P [is less than] .001). There were no differences in patterns of supplement use according to age or body mass index.
* CONCLUSIONS Our study indicates an association between individuals who use ergogenic nutritional supplements and specific health risk behaviors. This represents an important opportunity for preventive counseling.
* KEYWORDS Ergogenic nutritional supplements [non- MESH]; risk-taking; preventive medicine. (J Fam Pract 2001; 50:696-699)
* Ergogenic supplements are commonly used by young individuals.
* Such use is associated with predictable high-risk behaviors.
* People who use these supplements are candidates for targeted preventive counseling.
Since ancient times, athletes have ingested substances to gain a competitive edge. The use of such supplements, however, is not restricted to athletes. In 1996, Americans spent $6.5 billion on dietary supplements. Individuals cite many reasons for using such supplements, including to ensure good nutrition, prevent illness, improve performance, ward off fatigue, and enhance personal appearance.
Since 1998, interest in the ergogenic effects of products currently marketed as nutritional supplements, in particular creatine and androstenedione, has increased. Creatine is currently the most popular dietary ergogenic supplement. The reported benefits of creatine include increased energy during short-term intense exercise, increased muscle mass, increased strength, increased lean body mass, and decreased lactate accumulation during intense exercise. Although it is clear that supplementation raises intramuscular creatine stores, it remains unclear how effective creatine is as an ergogenic aid. Generally, it is felt that creatine supplementation may be useful for repeated bouts of high-intensity short-duration exercise. Claims of increased strength and muscle mass have not, however, been unequivocally proven.
Androstenedione is a steroid hormone. Many sporting communities, including the International Olympic Committee, have banned its use. By itself, androstenedione is weakly androgenic. To date, the largest controlled trial examining the effectiveness of androstenedione as an ergogenic aid showed no significant gains in muscular strength compared with a standard program of resistance training. Methodologic concerns have been raised about this particular study, because supplement manufacturers are not subject to United States Food and Drug Administration approval if no unsupported claims...