Abu Dhabi: Members of the Federal National Council on Tuesday approved a motion calling on the Ministry of Health and Prevention along with other authorities to impose tight control of performance-enhancing drugs.
Gym goers are getting hooked on to a wide variety of dietary supplements and body boosters even though these have severe side-effects, a member of the Federal National Council (FNC) warned as he raised a question to Abdul Rahman Mohammad Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention.
Marwan Ahmad Bin Galita, a member from Dubai, said gyms and trainers across the country lack accreditation and training.
Bin Galita blamed most of gym trainers for the abuse of steroids among bodybuilding enthusiasts and said these trainers have a very smart way of convincing young gym patrons to take dietary supplements and steroids and make big profits illegally.
“The trainers would introduce the idea of steroids and persuade young gym goers to take them. Trainers also assure clients that they would administer the cycle of steroids, even though they lack the skills and training to do so.”
The member warned a worryingly high percentage of users are adolescents who seek quick results and obtain many of these products over the counter at gyms across the country.
Bin Galita told the House that many of these performance enhancers are counterfeit, posing even a greater danger to users.
Consumption of dietary supplements causes side-effects such as abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhoea, increasing weight gain due to water retention and muscle cramps. It also affects kidney function and enlarges the heart muscle. The side-effects of anabolic steroids include damaged liver and kidneys and, in some cases, swelling of the brain. The use of dietary supplements is being heavily debated across the world for their suspected side-effects, with many countries even contemplating a ban on them.
The Minister of Health and Prevention told the House that inspection campaigns led to the withdrawal of 67 body boosters last year and 12 such performance enhancers this year.
“The ministry also issued 114 warnings to gyms last year,” Al Owais said, noting that food supplements are generally controlled by the municipalities across the country.
“The Health Ministry only controls boosters dispensed through physicians’ prescriptions,” he said.
According to health experts, most of the health supplements available in the market are laced with steroids.
“Since these items are easily available at any gym, many youngsters are getting hooked on to them,” Bin Galita said, calling for tight control and firm licensing procedures for these gyms.
He called for awareness campaigns to educate gym goers that the protein needs of their body can be met through a balanced diet. Therefore, protein and amino acid supplements do not offer any added advantage over eating foods that are sources of protein.