Creatine: Usage trends
Last modified: Thursday, 26. March 2009 - 5:10 am
Worldwide demand for nutritional supplements is projected to reach $162 billion by 2004. Sports supplements in particular are a rapidly-growing market in the United States. According to Nutrition Business Journal, a dietary supplement trade group publication, Americans spent $1.6 billion on creatine and other performance-enhancing dietary products in 2000.
Scope and severity
Market research analysts Frost & Sullivan report that the U.S. creatine market is growing an estimated 15-20% each year, and sales of the product are projected to exceed $350 million by 2006. The American College of Sports Medicine has estimated the national consumption of creatine in 1999 was 2,755 tons (2,500 metric tons).
Age, ethnic, and gender trends
Several studies and surveys have found that creatine use is on the rise among adolescent athletes in middle and high schools, with use of the supplement being reported in every grade from the sixth through the twelfth. Creatine use and awareness of use by peers was more common among boys, and at least one study published in the Southern Medical Journal (2001) found that the majority of student athletes were misinformed about the proper dosing or “loading method” of the supplement and consumed excessive amounts of creatine.
The University of Wisconsin’s Department of Sports Medicine found that 30% of high school football players surveyed in that state used or had used creatine, and the use of the supplement tended to increase with age. Similarly, a survey of high school and middle school athletes in Westchester County, New York, reported creatine use among 44% of high school seniors surveyed.
Another large-scale national survey conducted by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association’s Healthy Competition Foundation in 2001 found that an estimated one million adolescents surveyed (12-17 years of age) had tried performance-enhancing substances such as creatine. In addition, 55% of those surveyed knew someone who took supplements to improve sports performance.
A 2001 National Collegiate Athletic Association report entitled “NCAA Study of Substance Use Habits of College Student-Athletes” revealed that among the 29.8% of NCAA athletes who admitted using dietary supplements in the past 12 months, creatine was taken by 25.8% (second only to protein supplements). Fifty-seven percent of these athletes first used nutritional supplements in high school.
The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), a national study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 40% of Americans had used a dietary supplement in the month before they were interviewed for the study. Although NHANES did not break down supplement use into specific subtypes, the data gives some interesting insights into the growing acceptance of dietary supplement products in America.
Thirty percent of African Americans surveyed in NHANES III reported supplement use, as did 29% of Mexican Americans. Supplement use was highest among Caucasians (43%), and women were more likely to take them than men (44% vs. 35%). Interestingly, this gender gap appears to be reversed in the use of creatine and other performance-enhancing sports supplements, where males have a higher incidence of use. This is likely attributable to the fact that overall, U.S. high school and collegiate athletic programs have a larger population of male athletes than female. In 2001, there were 232,000 male athletes playing at the college level compared to 163,000 female. Similarly, 2.7 million girls took part in high school athletic programs during the 1998-99 school year, compared to 3.8 million boys.
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