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Nearly Half of Active Military Troops Use Sports Supplements, According to Research.

Steven Hill
Nearly Half of Active Military Troops Use Sports Supplements, According to Research.
Table Of Contents

The new study published in the International Society for Sports Nutrition Journal investigated the use of a category of items known as "sports-related nutritional supplements," or SNRS, which they described as sports beverages, sports bars, and sports gel.

As part of the study, the researchers looked at this product category as different from dietary supplements as a whole. They made this difference because the majority of these items are sold as foods. According to the study, these items frequently straddle the supplement/food split, with some being sold as foods and others having a Nutritional Facts panel on the back. However, the difference is mostly due to the manufacturer's preference, as the formulations are often relatively identical.

Study Based on Huge Data

The data was gathered by surveying troops' use of dietary supplements. The poll gathered information from over 26,000 active users, with around 88 percent of them being men.

The researchers further processed the data to establish what types of SRNS were utilized and how frequently the service members utilized them. They also sought to learn more about the military members to determine if any variables could increase usage. Finally, the researchers examined how common self-reported adverse events (AEs) are when these products are used. 

Overall, 45 percent of active-duty members used at least one SRNS, according to the researchers.

The most popular category was sports drink, which was closely followed by a sports bar. Only 3% of service members claimed to have used a sports gel. Gender, age, and education all had an impact on military members' use of SRNSs. Male members used more SRNSs than female members. Except for sports gel, which older members used more, SRNSs usage was inversely related to age and education. 

Smokers tend to use SRNSs more than non-smokers, and smokers who use smokeless tobacco are the most likely to use them. Service personnel in the military's combat arms used more SRNSs. The researchers discovered no link between BMI and the usage of SRNSs.

Sports Drinks Have Lesser Side Effects Than Supplements.

According to the study, only a few adverse occurrences were recorded by service personnel due to using these products. These ranged from 1.3 percent for a sports drink to a 2.8 percent chance for at least one adverse event by consuming sports gel.

According to the researchers, studies looking at the use of nutritional supplements among service personnel have revealed AE prevalence ranging from 8% to 29%, with the most reliable data putting the prevalence at around 18%.

Concerns Concerning the Safety Conclusions Reached by the Study

According to Rick Kingston, a PharmD expert on adverse event reporting, the study has one key disadvantage in assessing side effects. The problem is that not all sports supplements are made equal. He claimed that it would have been more useful to look at individual product ingredients instead of reporting by category. 

Commonly used sports supplements containing safe and effective ingredients include pre-workoutintra workout, and post-workout powder.  

Article Sources

  • Knapik, Joseph J., Daniel W. Trone, Ryan A. Steelman, Emily K. Farina, and Harris R. Lieberman. "Prevalence, Factors Associated with Use, and Adverse Effects of Sport-Related Nutritional Supplements (Sports Drinks, Sports Bars, Sports Gels): The US Military Dietary Supplement Use Study." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 18, no. 1 (August 25, 2021): 59.

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Steven Hill

Steven is a passionate health & fitness writer. Steven has considerable research experience, but also enjoys writing nutrition and workout articles for general readership.

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