Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Use of Nonprescription Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss Is Common among Americans.

Authors
item Blanck, Heidi - CDC, DIV NUTR AND PHYS
item Serdula, Mary - CDC, DIV NUTR AND PHYS
item Gillespie, Cathleen - CDC, DIV NUTR AND PHYS
item Galuska, Deborah - CDC, DIV NUTR AND PHYS
item Sharpe, Patricia - UNIV OF SOUTH CAROLINA
item Conway, Joan
item Khan, Laura - CDC, DIV NUTR AND PHYS
item Ainsworth, Barbara - SAN DIEGO STATE UNIV

Submitted to: Journal Of The American Dietetic Association
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 3, 2006
Publication Date: March 1, 2007
Citation: Blanck, H.M., Serdula, M.K., Gillespie, C., Galuska, D.A., Sharpe, P.A., Conway, J.M., Khan, L., Ainsworth, B.A. 2007. Use of dietary supplements for weight loss are common among Americans. Journal Of The American Dietetic Association. 107(3):441-447.

Interpretive Summary: Dietary supplements for weight loss are widely marketed in the U.S. despite their lack of approval for treatment of obesity. We estimated the prevalence of weight-loss supplement use, frequency and duration of use, associated weight-control behaviors, discussion of use with a healthcare professional, and specific active ingredient use. We used data from the National Physical Activity and Weight Loss Survey, a cross-sectional population-based telephone survey conducted September 2002 to February 2003. Data from 11,200 U.S. adults over 18 years of age was examined to determine the adjusted odds of using weight-loss supplements. Fifteen percent of the respondents [women: 20.6 percent, men: 9.7 percent] reported having ever used a weight-loss supplement and 8.7 percent reported past year use [women: 11.3 percent, men: 6.0 percent]. Use was equally prevalent among race/ethnic groups and education levels. Ten percent of users reported greater than 12 month use, with less frequent long-term use in women (7.7 percent) than men (15.0 percent), p=0.01. Among respondents who had seen a doctor in the past year, 30.2 percent of users discussed their use with a health care professional. 73.8 percent used a supplement containing a stimulant including ephedra, caffeine, and/or bitter orange. We found that weight-loss supplement use was common among many segments of the U.S. population. Long-term use was prevalent and most individuals did not discuss use with a health care professional. The majority of users took supplements containing stimulants. Qualified professionals should inquire about weight-loss supplement use and advise patients about unpredictable and potentially harmful effects, as well as sound information about appropriate weight-loss methods including diet and exercise. This information is particularly useful to dietitians and other health care professionals and those who are involved in the sale and marketing of nutraceuticals.

Technical Abstract: Dietary supplements for weight loss are widely marketed in the U.S. despite their lack of approval for treatment of obesity. We estimated prevalence of weight-loss supplement use, frequency and duration of use, associated weight-control behaviors, discussion of use with a healthcare professional, and specific active ingredient use. We used data from the National Physical Activity and Weight Loss Survey, a cross-sectional population-based telephone survey conducted September 2002 to February 2003. Using logistic and regression analysis, data from 11,200 U.S. adults over 18 years of age was examined to determine the adjusted odds of using weight-loss supplements. Fifteen percent of the respondents [women: 20.6 percent, men: 9.7 percent] reported having ever used a weight-loss supplement and 8.7 percent reported past year use [women: 11.3 percent, men: 6.0 percent]. Use was equally prevalent among race/ethnic groups and education levels. Ten percent of users reported greater than 12 month use, with less frequent long-term use in women (7.7 percent) than men (15.0 percent), p=0.01. Among respondents who had seen a doctor in the past year, 30.2 percent of users discussed their use with a health care professional. 73.8 percent used a supplement containing a stimulant including ephedra, caffeine, and/or bitter orange. We found that weight-loss supplement use was common among many segments of the U.S. population. Long-term use was prevalent and most individuals did not discuss use with a health care professional. The majority of users took supplements containing stimulants. Qualified professionals should inquire about weight-loss supplement use and advise patients about unpredictable and potentially harmful effects, as well as sound information about appropriate weight-loss methods including diet and exercise.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page