Study examines ethnic differences in use of unproven weight loss supplements

NEW ORLEANS A new analysis of a weight loss survey suggests that Hispanics and African Americans are more likely than whites to use unproven dietary supplements for weight loss, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare reported Monday.

“The rates of obesity among African Americans and Hispanic groups in the United States tend to be higher than obesity rates among whites,” stated Adam Gilden Tsai, medical director for the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “There are a variety of diseases associated with being obese or overweight and it is important that individuals use evidence-based treatments for weight loss.”

The new data shows that Hispanics and African Americans are less likely to use commercial weight loss programs—defined as organized programs where clients attend regular meetings either in person or online—and more likely to exercise and use dietary supplements for weight loss, such as herbs or plant extracts, as compared to white consumers.

The new subgroup analysis was based on a telephone survey of 3,500 U.S. adults conducted in 2005-2006. The results suggest that while concern about weight was similar across all groups, white consumers were more likely than African Americans or Hispanics to have used a commercial program and less likely than African-Americans or Hispanics to have used OTC supplements for weight loss. Data showed no differences between ethnic groups in the use of prescription medications or medically supervised programs. These associations remained significant after controlling for socioeconomic status, age, gender; self-perceived weight and beliefs about efficacy of supplements.

The data, was presented Monday morning at the 2007 Annual Scientific Meeting of NAASO, the Obesity Society.

Login or Register to post a comment.