Background: Reports of high levels of use of protein powders and nutritional supplements among young men is a concern because these substances may act as a gateway for the use of drugs and illegal substances to enhance appearance or sports performance. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between body dissatisfaction, weight change behaviors, supplement use, and attitudes towards doping in sport among an adolescent male sample.
Methods: Participants were 1148 male adolescents (age range 11-21 years) in Australia who completed a self-report questionnaire that measured weight change behaviors, supplement use, body dissatisfaction (Male Body Attitudes Scale; MBAS) and attitudes towards doping in sport (Performance Enhancing Attitudes Survey; PEAS).
Results: There was a positive correlation between MBAS total and PEAS scores (r = .19, p < .001), indicating that the young men who were more dissatisfied with their bodies were more likely to support the use of doping in sport. Young men who were currently attempting weight loss or weight gain, and those currently consuming energy drinks (ηp2 = .01, p < .01) and vitamin/mineral supplements (ηp2 = .01, p < .01) were also significantly more supportive of doping in sport. However, those involved in weight lifting, and using protein powders were not (p > .05).
Conclusions: These findings suggest that body dissatisfaction, weight change behaviors, and supplement use are related to more lenient attitudes towards doping in sport among adolescent boys. Future research might examine whether combining educational content for the prevention of body dissatisfaction and the use of drugs in sport may have a greater preventive impact than current programs aimed at young men.