A possible role of dietary creatine for ensuring proper growth and development remains unknown. The main aim of this cross-sectional study was to quantify the amount of creatine consumed through regular diet among U.S. children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years and investigate the relationship between creatine intake and growth indicators, using data from the 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). We included data for NHANES 2001-2002 respondents (4291 participants, 2133 boys and 2158 girls) aged 2 to 19 years at the time of screening, who provided valid dietary information and examination measures (standing height and weight). Individual values for total grams of creatine consumed per day for each participant were computed using the average amount of creatine (3.88 g/kg) across all sources of meat-based foods. All participants were categorized for height-for-age and BMI-for-age categories. The average daily intake of creatine across the whole sample was 1.07 ± 1.07 g (95% CI, from 1.04 to 1.10). Height, weight, and BMI were significantly different across creatine quartiles (p < 0.001), with all measures significantly higher in the 4th quartile of creatine intake (≥1.5 g/day) than those in other quartiles (p < 0.05). The participants from the 3rd quartile of creatine intake (0.84-1.49 g/day) were significantly different from others with respect to having lower rates of normal stature and higher rates of tall stature (p < 0.05). Each additional 0.1 g of creatine consumed per day increases height by 0.60 cm (simple model) or 0.30 cm (adjusted model). The daily intake of creatine from a regular diet in taller children and adolescents was higher than in shorter peers aged 2-19 years. Future research has to monitor temporal changes in growth and dietary creatine and validate our findings in interventional studies across pediatric populations.
Keywords: BMI-for-age; children; creatine; growth; height; stature-for-age.