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Background: It is known that supplement use is a widespread and accepted practice by athletes and people who attend commercial gyms. Little is known about protein supplement amongst people undertaking strength training in commercial gyms in Italy when compared to the US. Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the use of protein supplementation, alone or in association with other supplements, and dietary behavior amongst regular fitness center attendees in Palermo, Italy. Design: Resistance training information have been collected from 800 regular fitness center attendees for the initial analysis.A specific questionnaire was generated for the experimentation.

Data were collected using a face-toface interview method. Supplement users were then compared to the non users and analyzed using a one-way ANOVA, Kruskall-Wallis, chi-square test or exact test of Fisher when appropriate. Results: 30.

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1% of the respondents use dietary supplements during their training as a believe it is the “way to gain muscles and strength”. Whey protein shakes (50. 0%) mixed with creatine and amino-acids (48. 3%) were the most frequent choices amongst the users.

A majority of the subjects (34.0%) appeared to rely on their gym instructors’ advice for their intake; a lower proportion (13. 0%) consulted physicians, while none of them consulted nutritionists. A high consumption of milk has been noticed in both users (67,7%) and non-users (52,8%); supplement non-users consumed significantly more snacks and bakery products than users per week (P < 0. 001), while users consumed significantly more protein-rich foods (P 0. 01) with a particular preference for meat (48. 0%). Conclusions: A considerable number of regular strength training adepts consume protein supplements mixed with other products (mainly creatine and amino-acids).

Limited numbers consult “dietary specialists” and rely mainly on their instructors. We emphasize on the importance of the dissemination of scientifically based information about supplementation in this environment and the promotion of updated educational programs for the instructors. Introduction Nutrition is traditionally perceived as a crucial component of physical fitness and performance. In the last few decades, the increasing understanding of human nutrition and its effects on the metabolism have led to a wiser management of the intake and the subsequent sport performance.* Correspondence: antonino.

[email protected] it 1 Department of Sports and Exercise Science (DISMOT), University of Palermo, via Eleonora Duse, 2, 90146, Palermo, Italy Full list of author information is available at the end of the article Global supplement use in athletes is estimated to range from 40% to 88% [1-5], with over 30. 000 supplements being commercially-available in the United States (US) [3-5]. More than 3 million people in the US alone are using or have used ergogenic supplements [4-7] believing they may enhance their strength and physical performances.These are also widespread amongst athletes at high school and collegiate levels.

However, evidence suggests that supplements might be beneficial only for small subgroups of people [7-11]. © 2011 Bianco et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons. org/licenses/by/2. 0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Bianco et al. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2011, 8:25 http://www.jissn. com/content/8/1/25 Page 2 of 6 Some authors compared socio-demographic characteristics, like age, gender, education and income, between users and non users of mineral supplements and found significant age-related and education-related differences [12-14].

Other authors showed that intake of various micronutrients from natural foods was higher amongst supplement users compared to non-users; they have also indentified different food preferences between the two groups [15-18]. Supplements are consumed for a variety of reasons.Many exercise active individuals utilize supplements to build muscle, gain strength, prevent future disease or illness and improve performance in sport.

Also, studies have shown that people have different opinions about the use of supplements [7-9,18-26]. This finding might be explained by different cultures, type of exercise training and type of dietary supplements. Kaufman et al. [27] found that older persons were more likely to take multivitamin and mineral supplements, while younger persons were more likely to take creatine.

The choice of supplements depends also on the reason of the exercise program [20] and/or the type of sport [7].It has been demonstrated that a significant number of consumers learn about supplements from unqualified sources rather than health professionals [20,21]. One of the aims of this study is to find out if the situation is similar in Palermo, Italy. Although it is largely known that supplement use is a widespread and accepted practice by athletes and people who attend commercial gyms, with a large range of brands and products in the market [19,20], compared to the US only few studies have been carried out in Europe and other continents in this topic.

In particular, we have no references about protein supplement amongst the adepts of strength training in gyms in Italy. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the use of protein supplements, alone or in association with other intakes and also to identify the dietary behavior amongst people who want to “build up muscles” in regular commercial fitness’ users in Palermo, Italy. Spinning, Step, circuit training, endurance and cardiovascular programs, etc.

.. ) were excluded. On the basis of these inclusion/exclusion criteria, a total of 207 participants were retained for the investigation.

Questionnaire procedureIn order to evaluate supplements use, dietary behavior and other related information, a 19-items questionnaire was developed based on previously published studies [20-24]. An informal pilot survey was preliminarily conducted among 27 customers of two fitness centers in order to identify issues of timing, wording or minor clarifications. The pilot-interviewed subjects had similar demographics and educational level to the target population. The instrument examined the use of dietary supplements and their nutrient content (protein in association with other supplements), dietary behavior, reasons for use, education level and occupation.This latest was categorized as sedentary, standing, manual work and heavy manual work, according to the EPIC physical activity questionnaires criteria [22].

Easy definitions of the supplements were provided to the participants. Completion of the questionnaire implied respondent consent to participate in the study. According to the Italian regulations, ethical approval was not required for this study. The questionnaire was completed using the face-to-face interview method during four months by the same investigator. The surveyed population was split between supplement users and non users for comparison.Data Analysis Methods Participants Data analysis was performed using EpiInfo software version 3. 2 (CDC, Atlanta, GA, US) and Statistica version 8.

0 software for Windows (Tulsa, OK, US). The descriptive analysis was performed by calculating the means, standard deviations and the frequencies. Differences were assessed by one-way ANOVA test, Kruskall-Wallis, chi-square test or exact test of Fisher when appropriate. The associations between the variables under examination were evaluated using contingency tables. Statistical significance was set at P values ? 0. 05.Permissions to conduct a survey were obtained from the managers of a representative number of six fitness centers located in the inner city and the suburbs of Palermo in 2009. The fitness centers have been identified using a database of CONI register (National Olympic Committee Register for Sport and Fitness Associations).

Using the database of fitness centers, a number of 800 people (20% of the total number), have been randomly selected as potential participants. Only fitness/gym attendees who were taking part in strength training courses have been selected.All gym/fitness users practicing aerobic activities (such as Aerobic, Results Demographics 207 questionnaires were collected at the end of the survey period representing 80 females and 127 males. Table 1 summarizes the socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents.

The average age of the surveyed subjects was 26. 3 ± 9. 1 yrs. Almost a quarter (23. 7%) had attended eight years in the primary and secondary education and 21.

3% had graduated from universities (? 13 years of education). The majority of the subjects were males (61. 4%) and attended gym for one to five years (47. 0%).

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