Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of jathtrainLink to Publisher's site
J Athl Train. 1998 Jan-Mar; 33(1): 41–44.
PMCID: PMC1320374

The Use of Nonprescription Weight Loss Products Among Female Basketball, Softball, and Volleyball Athletes from NCAA Division I Institutions: Issues and Concerns

Malissa Martin, EdD, ATC,* Gretchen Schlabach, PhD, ATC, and Kim Shibinski, MS



To identify and describe the use of nonprescription weight loss products among female basketball, softball, and volleyball players from NCAA Division I institutions and to address health and sports performance issues concerning the use of weight loss products by female athletes.

Design and Setting:

Mailed self-reporting questionnaire, sample of convenience. The Department of Physical Education at the University of South Carolina sponsored this study.


The researchers sent 371 questionnaires to NCAA Division I athletic trainers of ten basketball teams, ten softball teams, and eleven volleyball teams. The recipients returned all of the questionnaires. Of the subjects, 106 played basketball, 138 played softball, and 127 played volleyball.


A survey consisting of nine questions related to the use of weight loss products by NCAA Division I female athletes.


Approximately 29% of the subjects reported using nonprescription weight loss products, which included general weight-reducing products, diuretics, and laxatives. More volleyball players (71%) used all types of these products than did softball (32%) or basketball (11.3%) players. More white athletes (32.3%) reported using the products than did African American athletes (6.7%). More volleyball players (23.6%) used diuretics than did softball (3.6%) or basketball (1.0%) players. Laxative use was greatest among volleyball players (18.8%), followed by basketball (1.8%) and softball (2.9%) players. Subjects typically reported purchasing nonprescription weight loss products over the counter (96.4%). The mean age of initial use was 16.2 years. Frequency of use increased during the out-of-sport season. The number one reason for using nonprescription weight loss products was for appearance enhancement (79.6%).


Based upon the results of this study, the use of nonprescription weight loss products is particularly common among volleyball players, but softball and basketball players also use them. Most subjects used these products during the out-of-sport season; therefore, information and intervention programs should target out-of-season use patterns. These programs should address the effects weight loss products have on sports performance and general health and should address issues relating to physical appearance.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (758K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Armstrong LE, Costill DL, Fink WJ. Influence of diuretic-induced dehydration on competitive running performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1985 Aug;17(4):456–461. [PubMed]
  • Copeland PM. Renal failure associated with laxative abuse. Psychother Psychosom. 1994;62(3-4):200–202. [PubMed]
  • Mira M, Stewart PM, Vizzard J, Abraham S. Biochemical abnormalities in anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Ann Clin Biochem. 1987 Jan;24(Pt 1):29–35. [PubMed]
  • Murray R. Dehydration, hyperthermia, and athletes: science and practice. J Athl Train. 1996 Jul;31(3):248–252. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Sawka MN. Physiological consequences of hypohydration: exercise performance and thermoregulation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992 Jun;24(6):657–670. [PubMed]
  • Schlabach G. Carbohydrate strategies for injury prevention. J Athl Train. 1994 Sep;29(3):244–254. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Torranin C, Smith DP, Byrd RJ. The effect of acute thermal dehydration and rapid rehydration on isometric and istonic endurance. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1979 Mar;19(1):1–9. [PubMed]
  • Webster S, Rutt R, Weltman A. Physiological effects of a weight loss regimen practiced by college wrestlers. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1990 Apr;22(2):229–234. [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of Athletic Training are provided here courtesy of National Athletic Trainers Association