High School Athletes’ Use and Knowledge of (Safe) Nutritional Supplement Use: An Exploratory Study

Floris C. Wardenaar, Hannah Lybbert, Lindsay Morton, Kinta D. Schott, Colin Shumate, Simin Levinson, Christopher Wharton, Pamela Kulinna, Hans van der Mars

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The use of nutritional supplements can lead to doping risk and no data exist on high school athletes’ use of certified third-party tested supplements. A cross-sectional cohort design was developed using an anonymous survey. Descriptive data for supplement use, use of third-party tested supplements, and knowledge in high school athletes were reported. A total of 225 high school athletes, ranging from 14-19 years of age, from a private high school in the western US, were included in the analysis of the results. A total of 94% (n=211) of athletes reported nutritional supplement use within the past year with an average of six (interquartile range: 3-9) individual supplements, ranging from 0-20 supplements per person. Most frequently reported were sports drinks (72%), vitamins (65%), sports bars (60%), protein powder (58%), caffeine (37%, as part of normal beverages, or 13% as a supplement), followed by creatine (23%). A total of 24% claimed to know for sure that all their supplements were third-party tested. In addition, the recognition of third-party testing organization icons was low (46% in supplement users vs. 14% in nonusers). Athletes also scored low in reporting how to find (22%) and how to order (25%) third-party tested supplements. In conclusion, almost all athletes in this study reported the use of multiple nutritional supplements annually. Only one-fourth of the athletes reported consistently using third-party tested supplements. Knowledge of where and how tested supplements could be purchased was limited in this high school athlete population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Dietary Supplements
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • attitude
  • doping risk
  • sports food
  • theory of planned behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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