Despite recommendations against the use of creatine by anyone under age 18, more than two-thirds of sales clerks at health food stores told a researcher posing as a 15-year-old male football player to give it a try. Creatine is a naturally occurring compound involved in the production of energy in the body used by athletes, bodybuilders, wrestlers, sprinters, and others who to gain muscle mass. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend against its use by anyone under the age 18. As part of a clinical research program in summer 2014 at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York, undergraduate researchers contacted 244 national chain and independent health food stores by phone and read from a script that began: “Hi, my name is Mark and I’m a 15 year-old going into my sophomore year of high school. I’m a football player trying to do strength training before the season. Do you have any supplements you would recommend?” If the sales attendant did not recommend creatine, the researcher said that other players on the team told him creatine worked well for them, and asked if they would recommend that supplement. They also asked whether they could buy creatine on their own, or if they would need to bring an adult with them.
- 67.2 percent of sales attendants recommended creatine for a 15-year-old male athlete.
- 38.5 percent recommended creatine without prompting.
- An additional 28.7 percent recommended creatine when specifically asked.
- Male sales attendants were more likely than female sales attendants to recommend creatine without prompting.
- 74 percent of sales attendants said a 15-year-old could purchase creatine on his own.
- There was no difference in creatine recommendations based on geographic region.