Background/Aims: The aim of this study was to investigate the knowledge, motivations and occurrence of protein supplement use amongst the adolescent athlete population (13-18 years).
Methods: Eighty-seven adolescent athletes (age: 15.9 ± 1.8) based in the Australian Capital Territory, competing in four different sports (Athletics, Swimming, Australian Football and Soccer) were surveyed. Survey questions related to regularity of use, purchasing habits, associated risk knowledge, source of information and beliefs on protein-based sports supplements. Data was analysed using frequency and chi-squared tests.
Results: Fifty-two (60%) adolescent athletes reported using protein supplements, with a positive relationship between age and use. Fifty-five percent of participants (n = 48) acknowledged there were risks associated with protein supplement consumption, however, 22% indicated they did not know what the risks were. Adolescents who reported using protein supplements were significantly more likely to believe there are no risks associated with protein supplement use (p = < 0.02). Coaches were more commonly found to initiate protein supplement use (50%), and were the primary source of information regarding supplements (58%), A further 19% of adolescent athletes obtained information from the Internet and 17% purchased supplements online.
Conclusions: Education for adolescent athletes, coaches and families regarding the purchase and safe use of protein supplements during this vital developmental period is required. Further investigation into the level of nutrition knowledge of sports coaches is also warranted given the key role they play in providing information and advocating the use of protein supplements in this age group.
Funding source(s): N/A