Consumer Reports has issued a warning in its June 2001 issue about the dangers of sports supplements, including ephedra, androstenedione and creatine, saying that Americans are “conducting what amounts to a vast, uncontrolled clinical experiment on themselves with untested, largely unregulated medications.” Noting that Americans spent an estimated $1.4 billion in sports supplements in 1999, the publication states that research has shown the substances to be either ineffective or of only slight help in improving performance.
The Nutrition Business Journal reports that 4 percent of American adults have taken a sports supplement, and 1.2 million use the products regularly. A study by Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association found that 6 percent of 15- to 16-year-olds and 8 percent of 17- to 18-year-olds have taken a sports supplement, the vast majority of whom were male. The No. 1 reason listed by teens for using sports supplements is to develop bigger muscles, followed by the desire to have energy to burn, either to improve their performance or help them lose weight. Consumer Reports points out that the supplements have been tested in adults, but not in minors, and that future tests on minors are unlikely for ethical reasons.
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