Dietary and health supplement use among older Australians: results from a national survey

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Brownie, S & Myers SP 2003, 'Dietary and health supplement use among older Australians: results from a national survey', Australasian Journal on Ageing, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 171-178.

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Objectives: To measure the extent of dietary and health supplement use among older Australians and to contrast older supplement users from older nonsupplement users. Method: Survey participants (n= 1,263) provided information related to demographic, health and lifestyle features. The target population were Australians aged 65 years and over, randomly chosen from the Australian Electoral Commission. Data was obtained using a 12-page self-administered, mail questionnaire. Results: Forty-three percent (n=548) of the sample reported using at least one dietary and health supplement, 52% of females and 35% of males. Supplement use was significantly related to several demographic and lifestyle features including: gender, educational level, smoking status and number of visits to complementary health therapists. Conclusions: Clearly, supplements were chosen more for their perceived ability to attenuate or modify ailments, rather than their role in correcting nutritional deficiencies. Older Australians appear intent on taking health matters in their own hands. Approximately one third of them rarely inform their doctor about the supplements they use, which raises concerns about the safety and appropriateness of this action.

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