Blue Cross/Blue Shield Says 1.1 Million Teens Have Used Performance
Enhancing Sports Supplements and Drugs
IL, 31 October 2003
on projections from a nationally representative survey released
today by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), approximately
1.1 million young people between ages 12 and 17 have taken potentially
dangerous performance-enhancing supplements and drugs. Just as alarming,
76 percent could not identify any negative side effects that might
result from using steroids, ephedra and other similar substances.
Cross and Blue Shield Plans are committed to the health of America's
young people," said Allan Korn, MD, BCBSA chief medical officer.
"Five years ago when we launched the Healthy Competition program,
people thought performance-enhancing drugs were only a problem for
elite athletes. But today, 74 percent of the people surveyed agree
that these substances pose a significant public health problem."
survey highlights just how seriously parents view the potential
health threat, with 39 percent rating the use of performance-enhancing
supplements and drugs as their number one concern in youth sportsfar
more than aggressive behavior (16 percent), competitiveness (15
percent) and injury (10 percent). Yet, 81 percent of young people
said they had never had a conversation with their parents about
performance-enhancing substances, and 69 percent said they had received
no information from their sports teams.
survey should serve as a wakeup call to parents, teachers, coaches,
and the public health community about the need to educate our young
people regarding the dangers associated with performance-enhancing
drugs and supplements," Dr. Korn added.
key survey results:
of ephedra appears to be on the rise, with 7 percent of youth
responding that they knew someone using it compared to zero
percent in 2001.
all youths surveyed (ages 10-17) who knew someone using performance-enhancing
substances, the most common substance identified was creatine
(38 percent). Steroids (34 percent) were the second-most cited.
the youth who knew someone using performance-enhancing supplements,
27 percent said these teens were taking the substances to
"look better," an increase from 19 percent in 2001.
71 percent of youth thought football players were more likely
to use performance-enhancing substances, the perception that
baseball players used them increased substantially over the
last two years (27 percent vs. 22 percent in 2001).
percent of youth strongly disapprove of athletes who use performance-enhancing
substances, an increase from 66 percent of young people with
this view in 2001.
vast majority of adults believe there should be greater regulatory
oversight of the industries responsible for developing and
marketing performance-enhancing substances.
need to protect the bodies and minds of young people from the harmful
effects of all drugs, including performance enhancing substances,"
said John Walters, director of National Drug Control Policy. "Athletes
of all ages must contend with the pressures of competition and can
sometimes be tempted to take dangerous shortcuts. Parents and coaches
can help young athletes make healthy decisions by educating them
on these harmful drugs."
addition to illegal performance-enhancing substances, such as steroids
and human growth hormones, many dietary supplement products available
over- the-counter or on the Internet contain potentially dangerous
ingredients, including androstenedione (andro) and ephedra. These
products are not regulated nor tested by the Food and Drug Administration,
and some have been reported to cause negative health consequences,
including acne, kidney problems, reproductive difficulties and even
death. People of all ages should consult with their doctors before
taking any sports supplement.
urges young athletes to abstain from using performance-enhancing
drugs and supplements and reminds athletes, coaches and parents
that skill, dedication and hard work are the most important qualities
for success in sports and in life," said Dr. Korn. For more information,
survey was conducted for BCBSA by C&R Research Services, Inc. via
telephone among a nationally representative sample of adults, 21
to 64 years of age, and youths, 10 to 17 years of age. A total of
1,803 interviews were completed1,000 among adults and 803
among youthsbetween April 4 and 23, 2003. The data provides
a reliable and accurate representation of both the US adult and
based on these samples are projectable to the national population
and have a sampling error of 3.1 percentage points for the adult
sample and 3.5 percentage points for the youth sample. Results based
on the subgroups may have a larger sampling error.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is comprised of 41 independent,
locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans that collectively
provide healthcare coverage for more than 88.7 millionnearly
one in threeAmericans.
Cross and Blue Shield Association (www.bcbs.com).