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Abstract

In 1994, Congress enacted the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act ( DSHEA ), which dramatically expanded the definition of a dietary supplement and established regulations for the marketing and manufacture of supplement products. The policy was intended to balance consumer access to supplements with consumer safety. However, DSHEA currently permits significant use of dietary supplements by uneducated young-adult athletes that were commonly provided or recommended a dietary supplement by an authority figure as a method to maximize their athletic potential. In order to understand the consumption habits of young-adult athletes, I utilized a mixed-methods approach, which included a survey of the University of Chicago Football team, which received eighty responses. Additionally, I conducted extensive interviews with four head coaches (two collegiate head football coaches, one collegiate head basketball coach, and one high school head football coach) and eight University of Chicago Football players. Following an aggregation of the quantitative survey data and an analysis of the qualitative interview findings, a common theme arose. There is currently a substantial disconnect between young-adult athletes’ knowledge of dietary supplement regulation in comparison to these athletes significant and diverse supplement consumption habits. As a result, I recommend a number of policy revisions, first at the federal level and, additionally, I recommend the creation of mandatory supplement education programs by the NCAA and high school athletic associations.

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