The Abuse Of Sporting Supplements Amongst Adolescents
Student Name: Killian Vigna
Student ID Number: 10129758
Course of Study: Digital Media Design (LM113)
Lecturer Name: Amy Healy
Date of Submission: 22nd November 2011
I ________Killian Vigna________________declare that the attached
essay/project is entirely my own work, in my own words, and that all sources
used in researching it are fully acknowledged and all quotations properly
ESSAYS, ASSIGNMENTS & PROJECTS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED BY THE
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY WITHOUT A SIGNED SUBMISSION
The Abuse of Sporting Supplements
Introduction to Social Research.
• Rationale and Significance of Research.
• Research Question(s).
• Literature Review.
• Method of Investigation.
• Ethical Issues.
The topic I have chosen to research is;
“The Abuse of Sporting supplements amongst Adolescents”.
The aim of this research is to discover the different factors amongst Adolescents and
Supplemental abuse today, either Legal Sporting Supplements, or Androgenic
Anabolic Steroidal (AAS) abuse.
The reason being for this report, is to find out the Percentage of youths who consume
supplements into their diets, and their reasons being, whether it’s athletically related
(substituting for muscular strength gains and performance) or the more popularly
growing, cosmetic use, for a more masculine, muscular defined physique.
Rational and Significance of Research.
The reason being for my research, is to find out,
1.What the average percentage of Adolescents today induce sports nutrition and
supplements into their diets, as opposed to the au-natural sports athletes who choose
to eat cleanly, with real Carbohydrates and Proteins rather than synthetic, chemically
2.How many Gym users include supplements for personal gains in favour of training
for a sport, i.e. to build that muscular physique for a more defined, muscular
3.The crucial question of, how many of these athletes are willing to go as far as
challenging their bodies and going beyond extremes, by taking illegal substances for
that added “edge”, with the possibility of the short and/ or long term effects it can
have both physically and emotionally.
1.What is the average percentage of young people
inducing sporting supplements into their diets?
2.How many Adolescence athletes and/ or frequent Gym
users have admitted to taking Illegal Sports
3.What are the main reasons behind taking these
supplements from such a young age?
1. Giving New Meaning To The Term "Taking One For The Team”: Influences
On The Use/Non-Use Of Dietary Supplements Among Adolescent Athletes.
In this article, the researchers main focus is “to assess intentions, attitudes, and beliefs
of 1737 adolescent athletes regarding dietary supplements”, as it is believed
Adolescence are where supplement companies focus most of their advertising on,
with such “Claims of increased energy, improved performance, and gains in muscular
strength” allowing them to reach a physical peak to that of their sporting idols.
To proceed with this study, the researchers made clear with each individual that, all
information must be clearly understood by each interviewee, to prevent being misled,
and that their study is completely voluntary, carried out with the consent of their
parents (as subjects we’re between 14-19 years of age), and they may discontinue
whenever they feel. With all of this taken into account, the researchers carried out
three main points;
“1) Attitude towards the behaviour - whether something seems good or bad to the
“2) Subjective norms - the perception of what others in their life would think about
the individual performing the behaviour and their motivation to comply with that
“3) Behavioural intention -- the decision made to either perform or not perform the
behaviour based on the weight of the first two tenets”.
Here we have the survey results based “ATTITUDES TOWARDS DIETARY
SUPPLEMENTS” (a personal note);
1."Most athletes my age need dietary supplements to improve sports performance" -
2."Taking dietary supplements would help all athletes do better in sports" - 27.4 Yes.
3."Taking dietary supplements is a safe way for athletes to improve sports
performance" - 32.7% Yes.
4."Taking dietary supplements is safe because they are tested by scientists” - 25.1%
Yes, 36% Unsure.
5."Taking dietary supplements give you more energy" - 41% Yes.
6."Taking dietary supplements is a safe way to improve strength" - 32.7% Yes.
7.“Taking dietary supplements is a good way to build muscle." - 44.8% Yes.
8.“Dietary supplements are safe because pro athletes take them" - 63% No.
9."Dietary supplements work because pro athletes take them" - 62.9% No.
Now they show the survey results based on “SUBJECTIVE NORMS” (What they
think their Coaches, Parents, Doctors and Teammates, would feel;
1."My coach would support my using dietary supplements to improve sports
performance" - 41.8% No Answer, 32.7% Yes, 25.4% No.
2.“My parents would support my using dietary supplements to improve sports
performance" 36% - Yes.
3."My doctor would support my using dietary supplements to improve sports
performance" - 25% Yes.
4."My teammates would support my using dietary supplements to improve sports
performance" - 45.9% Yes.
The final survey was based on “Behavioural Intentions”, meaning would they take
supplements they knew worked, or we’re given to them by an elder.
The results of this showed high percentages of teens agreeing they would take
supplements they knew worked, and how they are more inclined to take supplements off
of a coach or athlete, as opposed to their own parents for sporting benefits.
The reason behind this study is it was “one of the first to use theory as a framework in an
effort to determine underlying determinates of dietary supplement use among adolescent
athletes”. The results clearly show, that although Coaches specialise in managing a team,
they are not as nutritionally knowledgeable as some may think, however it is still the
Coach a young person will look up to, and if given supplements by them, they would
take them quicker than off a parent or teammate, regardless if they work or not, as
according to this article “Dietary supplements are not tested by any government
regulatory agency” and the only safety requirement, is only down to labelling.
2. Androgenic Anabolic drug use among male adolescents in Falkenburg
The aim of this article is to highlight the dangers and increasing misuse of steroidal
abuse amongst teenagers found through studies in Falkenburg. The “study was
undertaken to investigate the prevalence of androgenic anabolic steroid use among
teenagers in a small town and to create a platform for future work with the aim of
decreasing the misuse of these drugs.” The reason for including this survey, is, as
stated above, their research was not based on the intake of anabolic steroids by
athletes, but disturbingly by teenagers who wanted a better physical appearance, and
to appear more masculine.
This form of research was done through quantitative study, by means of “an
anonymous multiple-choice questionnaire distributed to high school students in
Falkenburg” with over 1,000 students between 14 and 19 filling out questionnaire
sheets. “The misuse of androgenic anabolic steroids was ascertained by the following
"Have you ever eaten doping pills with muscle-stimulating and anabolic effects?"
"Have you ever injected anabolic steroids?"
Both these questions were to be answered "yes" or "no."”.
Upon collecting back their data, it was revealed that over 52% of students knew
steroids could be accessed in their small town, and that “One in five boys knew of a
drug-misusing friend his own age”. Along with anabolic effects of the muscle, it was
reported most “were unaware of the adverse effects concerning, e.g. hair and skin
trouble” as well as temperamental issues. According to the questionnaire figures, 5%
of 15 year old males have taken hormonal boosting drugs, which “indicates that 350
boys of this age in the country of Holland use or have used steroid hormones”, “to
improve their appearance and handsomeness and perhaps also for their psychological
The conclusion of this article is simply summed up that there will always be steroidal
abuse amongst adolescents as “Today boys want muscles to give them a "macho look"
because they think that girls like this” and likewise “girls display anorectic behaviour
because they think that boys like them to be thin”.
Method of Investigation.
There are several methods that could be encountered to find out what percentage
of Adolescents are taking Sports Supplements and/ or Anabolic Steroids for either
athletic reasoning or physical appearance.
Below are the 2 main types of Surveying a researcher may use;
Qualitative is of a more personal process revealing exact results, however, this can be
a very time consuming method, usually involving small groups of people over a short
period of time, or a large group of interviewee's, taken over a relatively larger time,
maybe a few weeks, months, or even years depending on the form of research, and
results looking to be attained.
Methods of a Qualitative study can involve such actions as;
Introducing a group of people (usually around 10-20) to a discussion held by
researchers. The role of the surveyors is to throughout some topics of discussions, and
allow to the interviewee's converse on their personal thoughts and expressions. This
form of Study is less of an Interview, and more of an afternoon style talk, where the
focus group members can relax in a room, usually with some light refreshments and
openly talk about whatever the researchers will through at them, as opposed to
answering a question. Amongst the Surveyors there will be a scribe, whose job it is to
write and record everything said, and has taken place amongst the group before
heading off to analyse the results.
One-on-one Interviewing is more formal, with an interviewer citing of a
questionnaire sheet to an individual who in response answers each question, as
opposed to the Focus Group method where individuals and express their opinions in
no controlled manner, the one-on-one interviewee must give straight forward answers
that will give approved results.
Usually the most hated form of surveying amongst phone users, it is still very
affective, as just about every household in Ireland has a landline phone, and if not,
Almost every person has a mobile. The reason for its effectiveness being, Telephone
calls can be placed at random, therefore receiving a wide surface area of interviewee's
as opposed to restricting their surveying to one are. A researcher is able to progress on
their survey without having to meet the individual, therefore remaining
This form of researching is usually survey based. It's a faster method used to for
statistical results. Quantitative questionnaires are usually displayed as a set number of
questions, with multiple choice answers, such as “yes”, “no”, “maybe” and so on.
These forms of surveying are short and brief to allow the results to be published in
statistical form, and represented by means of bar and pie charts for example. This
allows for the researcher to visually see result variations, and allows them to segregate
into different categories for more defined results.
The Method of Investigation chosen for this research is:
Quantitative multiple choice question airing.
The reason being for this method, is due to the area's chosen to study (Anabolic
Steroids and other Sporting Supplements), the main ethical focus is Anonymity
amongst participants in sports teams throughout UL and other participants, therefore,
one-on-one Interviewing and Focus groups would prove difficult to find participants,
and if found, may result in the individuals holding back on certain questions. There is
also the aspect of, being as UL is such a highly acclaimed sporting college, it would
be interesting to try and survey as many people as possible, as opposed to restricting
to just the University Arena Gym users.
To progress this research, there will be enough Multiple choice questionnaires printed
up, with about 10 questions of the same on each, and handed out to every University
of Limerick sports club, plus a further couple of hundred to be handed out at the
University Arena desk by designated researchers as opposed to staff (this makes it less
personal receiving a questionnaire from someone you have never seen, than one you
meet every time you enter the gym) to regular users on a specific week between
opening and closing hours.
Willing participants will be asked to go home, and carefully answer as truthfully as
possible, all questions stated (bearing in mind, this is completely voluntary, and if one
wishes not to continue, may hand their survey back on the designated date listed) and
return when stated to where they received it from (again, this will be another surveyor
to keep it imp-personal).
The final results acquired by each participant will be carefully calculated up, and
transferred into SPSS where diagrams and charts can be obtained to compare and
contrast participant’s use of sport supplements visually, and in a presentational format.
The use of SPSS allows researchers to obtain results from several different research
questions, see which sex is more dominant in the use of supplements, what age group
amongst adolescents is most inclined to indulge in steroids, and finally, whether there
is a higher use of drug and/ or supplement abuse amongst athletes, or physical trainers
(individuals training for appearance over sport) and which is consumed more, legal, or
For this Research paper, SPSS allows for the answering of the three main Research
Questions listed at the start;
1.What is the average percentage of young people inducing sporting supplements into
2.How many Adolescence athletes and/ or frequent Gym users have admitted to
taking Illegal Sports Supplements?
3.What are the main reasons behind taking these supplements from such a young age?
In forms of Graphs and Pie charts to really highlight the main concerns between
taking legal sporting supplements, too going beyond limits and inducing illegal
Due to the fact, this research will not be going ahead, there is no real conclusive
evaluation to be shown, based on this quantitative survey in UL. Had this had
gone ahead, there would be an open door to access the real truth about legal and
illegal sports supplements induced by not only Athletes, but by frequent gym users
too amongst the University of Limerick, and other Irish Colleges. As there is so
much controversy now a-days of the intake of banned substances, and regular
drug testing from such a young age, this survey will be one of the first amongst
Irish Universities and Colleges to show the real percentages of users, and from
what ages substance abuse, or excessive supplement intake can start from for not
only athletic gains, but the split survey of non-athletic gains, but the increase of
substance intake for appearances alone, due to mass media pressure to look good!
The Ethical issues of this research will take these following titles into account.
The research subjects participating in this quantitative study will be highly informed
that the multiple choice questionnaire they are participating in is 100% voluntarily,
and under no circumstances should they feel in anyway obliged to continue/ finish off
their survey at hand. The participants may discontinue the survey whenever they
As stated under the Questionnaire title placed at the top of the survey, all rights of
Confidentiality are remained under strict order due to the researchers' aims of Sport's
Supplement and Anabolic Steroidal abuse. Participants will be asked to enter an age
group they fall into, a sporting activity (if any) they take place in, and several other
impersonal questions, however, it would be of a strict breach of ethical rules for any
user to enter any personal details (names, addresses, etc.) that may give away their
Being as this research aims to discover the percentage of UL students engaging in
supplemental and/ or steroidal abuse, the research team will be in conjunction with the
University of Limericks Counselling and Chaplaincy aids for any participants who
feel they might need help, or simply someone to talk to in confidence about whatever
problems may arise.
1.Perko, M. Bartee, R. Dunn, M. Wang, M. & Eddy, J.M. (2000) Giving New
Meaning to the Term “Taking
One for the Team:” Influences on the use/non-use of dietary supplements among
American Journal of Health Studies, 16, 2, 99-106
2.Nilsson, S. (1995). Androgenic anabolic steroid use among male adolescents in
Falkenburg. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY. 48 (1), 9-11.
3.Tian H, Ong W S, Tan C L
Body image and attitudes toward male roles in anabolic androgenic steroid
“The Abuse of Sporting supplements amongst
Attention: This Is a Social Research Survey Carried Out To Investigate The Use
of Sport's Supplements And Other Such Banned Substances Amongst Young
Irish Athletes, And Frequent Gym Users Today. This Research Respects All
Participants Rights To Privacy, And Therefore JUST The Questions Below Must
Be Answered, With No Further Information Of Personal Details Included.
As This Research Is 100% Voluntary, You Reserve The Right To Discontinue At
Anytime, And Hand Up The Questionnaire Unfinished.
If Under 18, Or Over 22, Please Refrain From Continuing The Questionnaire,
And Return To Place Of Collection On Due Date.
1.Are you a University of Limerick Undergraduate?
2.Please select an age group that best represents you.
3.Do you play for a UL Club and/ or Team?
4.If yes, please list the University Sport and/ or Club involved with.
5.Are you a frequent Gym user?
6.How many times a week do you engage in exercise?
7.Do you use the University Arena/ Boathouse?
8.Do you take legal sporting supplements? (Protein, Energy Drinks/ Bars, Creatine,
BCAA's, etc. . .)
9.Have you ever taken Anabolic Steroids, Hormone Boosters, or equivalent?
10.From what age did you begin taking legal Sport's Supplements (Insert “N/A” if
11.From what age did you begin taking Anabolic Steroids, Hormone Boosters, or
12.Would you ever take any banned substances if you felt it would increase your
13.Would you ever take Anabolic Steroids, Hormonal Boosters or equivalent to speed
up recovery from a bad injury?
14.Would you ever take any banned substances if you felt it would produce a more
15. How many, and what supplements, would you take a day?
Thank You For Your Participation Of This Survey, Please Remember To Return
To One Of The Designated Researchers On Week 12 Of College To Where You
First Received You're Questionnaire.
FACULTY OF ARTS, HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
RESEARCH ETHICS COMMITTEE
All applicants must fill in this checklist. If you answer “No” to all the questions,
please then fill in the application form. If you answer “Yes” to any of these questions,
you must also fill in the Advanced Ethics Application Form (Appendix C) which is
specifically designed with social research methodologies in mind. All applications
must be accompanied by an Information Sheet and Consent Form (Appendices A+B)
1.Does this application involve research with:
a.People under the age of 18 Yes No
b.People with psychological impairments Yes No
c.People under the control or influence of others (eg, people
in care, prisoners) Yes No
d.People with learning difficulties Yes No
e.Relatives or parents of sick people Yes No
f.People who only have a basic knowledge of English Yes No
g.Students with whom the researcher has a teaching or
supervisory relationship Yes
2.Does this application deal with:
a.Personally sensitive issues, such as suicide,
bereavement, gender identity, sexuality,
fertility, abortion, gambling, financial arrangements Yes No
b.Illegal activities, illicit drug taking substance abuse,
engaging in criminal behaviour Yes No
c.Any act that might diminish self-respect or cause
shame, embarrassment or regret? Yes No
d.Research into politically sensitive and/or racially/ethically
and/or commercially sensitive areas? Yes No
e.Issues which might otherwise give rise to a risk of loss
of employment for the participant? Yes No
3.Does the proposed research procedures involve:
a.Use of personal records without consent Yes No
b.Deception of participants or use of placebos Yes No
c.The offer of inducements to participate Yes No
d.Audio or visual recording without consent Yes No
e.Invasive physical interventions or treatment Yes No
f.Research that might put researchers or participants
at substantial risk? Yes No
g.Storage of data for less than 7 years? Yes No
h.Revealing the identity of participants? Yes No
i.Dealing with topics, using methodologies, or reporting
of findings in a way that is likely to cause pain,
Discomfort, embarrassment, or changes of lifestyle
for the participant? Yes No
FACULTY OF ARTS, HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
RESEARCH ETHICS COMMITTEE
All applicants must complete this form and include an information sheet and consent
form with their application. If you have ticked “yes” to any question on the checklist,
please complete this form and the “Advanced Ethics Application Form”.
For Office Use Only: Application No.: ____________
Name: Killian Vigna.
ID Number: 10129758.
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Department/Programme of Study: Digital Media Design (LM113).
Type of Project (FYP/MA/PhD/Faculty): Research Design.
Funding Body (where appropriate): N/A.
Project: The Abuse of Sporting Supplements amongst Adolescents.
Signature of Applicant ____________________________ Date
Signature of Supervisor/HoD _______________________ Date
FACULTY OF ARTS, HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
RESEARCH ETHICS COMMITTEE
APPENDIX B – CONSENT FORM
I, the undersigned, declare that I am willing to take part in research for the project
entitled “Name of Research Project”.
•I declare that I have been fully briefed on the nature of this study and my role in it
and have been given the opportunity to ask questions before agreeing to participate.
•The nature of my participation has been explained to me and I have full knowledge
of how the information collected will be used.
•I am also aware that my participation in this study may be recorded (video/audio)
and I agree to this. However, should I feel uncomfortable at any time I can request
that the recording equipment be switched off. I am entitled to copies of all recordings
made and am fully informed as to what will happen to these recordings once the study
•I fully understand that there is no obligation on me to participate in this study
•I fully understand that I am free to withdraw my participation at any time without
having to explain or give a reason
•I am also entitled to full confidentiality in terms of my participation and personal
Signature of participant Date