Although the use of nutritional supplements by professional athletes and the benefits thereof have been extensively studied, information on recreational athletes’ use of supplements is limited. This study investigated the consumption of nutritional supplements, source of information and supply of supplements, and level of awareness with regard to the relevant legislation among individuals who undertake regular exercise in Athens, Greece. A closed-ended, anonymous questionnaire was answered by 329 subjects (180 men, 149 women), age 30.6 ± 12.1 yr, from 11 randomly selected gym centers. Preparations declared as anabolic agents by the users were submitted to a gas chromatographic analyzer coupled to a mass spectrometric detector. Consumption of nutritional supplements was reported by 41% of the study population, with proteins/amino acids and vitamins being the most popular. Age (r = .456, p = .035), sex (χ2 = 14.1, df = 1, p < .001), level of education (χ2 = 14.1, df = 3, p < .001), and profession (χ2 = 11.4, df = 4, p = .022) were associated with the subjects’ decision to consume nutritional supplements. Most (67.1%) purchased products from health food stores. Only 17.1% had consulted a physician or nutritionist, and one third were aware of the relevant legislation. Two preparations were detected containing synthetic anabolic steroids not stated on the label. In conclusion, use of nutritional supplements was common among recreational athletes in Athens, Greece. A low level of awareness and low involvement of health care professionals as sources of information and supply were observed.
Tsitsimpikou is with the Dept. of Drugs and Narcotics, General Chemical State Laboratory of Greece, Athen, Greece. Chrisostomou and Papalexis are with the Dept. of Medical Laboratories, Technological Educational Institute of Athens, Athens, Greece. Tsarouhas is with the 2nd Department of Cardiology, “Amalia Fleming” General Hospital of Athens, Athens, Greece. Tsatsakis is with the Medical School Laboratory of Toxicology, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece. Jamurtas is with the Dept. of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Thessaly, Trikala, Greece.