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Open Access Research article

Factors Associated with herb and dietary supplement use by young adults in the United States

Paula Gardiner14*, Kathi J Kemper2, Anna Legedza3 and Russell S Phillips3

Author Affiliations

1 Boston University Medical School, Department of Family Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

2 Department of Pediatrics, Public Health Sciences and Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA

3 Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

4 Department of Family Medicine, Boston University Medical Center, 1 Boston Medical Center Place, Dowling 5 South Boston, MA 02118, USA

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2007, 7:39  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-7-39

Published: 30 November 2007

Abstract

Background

Little is known about the association between use of herbs and dietary supplements (HDS) and lifestyle/behavior factors in young adults in the US.

Methods

Analyzing the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), we examined the patterns of HDS (excluding vitamins/minerals) use among young adults in the United States using descriptive statistics and logistic regression.

Results

In our sample of 18 to 30 year olds (n = 6666), 26% were current smokers, 24% were moderate/heavy drinkers, 43% had high physical activity, and 54% and 76% use prescription and over the counter (OTC) medications respectively. Non-vitamin, non-mineral HDS was used by 17% of the overall sample in the last 12 months. In the multivariable analysis, the lifestyle and behavioral factors associated with HDS use include: current smoking (odds ratio 1.41 95% CI [1.16–1.72]); being a former smoker (1.50 [1.15–1.95]); moderate/heavy alcohol use (2.02 [1.53–2.65]); high physical activity levels (2.45 [1.98–3.03]); and prescription medication use (1.51 [1.26–1.81]). Among HDS users, only 24% discussed their use with a health care professional.

Conclusion

Nearly one in five young adults report using non-vitamin/non-mineral HDS.