Objective: To determine the prevalence, frequency, and patterns of creatine use among a local population of high school athletes.
Subjects and methods: Male and female high school athletes completed an anonymous questionnaire on creatine use during the August 1999 preparticipation examinations at a single institutional sports medicine center.
Results: A total of 328 students (182 males and 146 females) aged 14 to 18 years (mean +/- SD 15.2 +/- 1.3 years) completed the survey (100% response rate), although not all athletes answered each question. Twenty-seven athletes (8.2% of total group), 1 of whom was female, reported creatine use. Of these 27 athletes, 14 (52%) were taking creatine at the time of the survey. The frequency of creatine use among past and current users was equally distributed among rarely (30%), weekly (35%), and daily (35%). Creatine users were older than nonusers (mean 16.5 +/- 1.2 vs 15.0 +/- 1.3 years; P < .001). Of creatine users, 21 (78%) were male football players. Nineteen of 24 respondents (79%) believed creatine improved their performance. Overall, 78% of users either did not know how much creatine they were taking (12/22 respondents) or were taking greater than the recommended doses (5/22 respondents). Minor gastrointestinal side effects or muscle cramps were reported by 5 (20%) of 25 respondents. Creatine users were more likely than nonusers to know other creatine users (81% vs 22%; P < .001) and to use other supplements (67% vs 9%; P < .001). Creatine users obtained creatine information primarily from friends (74%) and purchased creatine predominantly from health food stores (86%).
Conclusions: High school male and female athletes as young as 14 years use creatine. Of high school athletes participating in our study, 8.2% reported creatine use. Relatively minor side effects, diarrhea, cramps, and loss of appetite, were reported. Creatine users seem to believe that creatine improves their performance, but they may lack sufficient information to make informed decisions regarding creatine use. Further larger scale study is warranted.