Prediction of food supplement use among college students: The role of beliefs, attitude, subjective norm and intention.
AuthorLowell, Alison Eldridge.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractVitamin and mineral supplementation practices of 502 college students were examined. Based on self reported use within the three months prior to completing the survey, a total of 62% of the sample of students at Pima Community College reported supplement use. Respondents were classified as non-users (38%), sporadic users (25%) or regular users (37%) of food supplements. Sporadic users were students who reported using supplements less than once per week, while regular users reported weekly or daily use. Among students taking multi-supplements, the most commonly consumed were multiple vitamins (44.9%) and multivitamins plus minerals (30.8%), with sporadic users reporting significantly lower use than regular users. The most common single supplement was vitamin C used by 55.7% of the students. Other popular single supplements were calcium (25.6%), vitamin E (21.6%) and iron (17.1%). Amino acids, garlic, aloe vera, yeast and fish oil were the most popular unconventional food supplements used. Supplement users believed that vitamins and minerals provided them with health benefits undocumented by scientific literature. Family members, newspapers, magazines, and books were the most common sources for nutrition information among these college students. Attitude was found to be a significant predictor of intention to take calcium or bee pollen supplements based on exposure to promotional pamphlets, while normative influences (family, friends and physicians) were much less strong. Improved physical vitality and scientific basis were among the strongest correlates with attitude and were the strongest predictors of behavioral intention to take calcium or bee pollen among the college students tested. These data underscore the need for educational efforts targeted toward specific errors in the beliefs of these students. Common misconceptions like vitamins and minerals increase pep and energy, reduce stress and prevent the common cold need to be refuted and scientifically based nutritional recommendations must be emphasized. The most effective vehicle for educational efforts targeting college students should be made using the sources for nutrition most used by them: popular books, magazines, and other media sources.
Degree ProgramNutritional Sciences