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Free Content Demographic, Lifestyle Factors, and Reasons for Use of Dietary Supplements by Air Force Personnel

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BACKGROUND: Dietary supplement (DS) use is common among U.S. Army personnel to purportedly improve health, provide energy, and increase strength. However, a comprehensive analysis of DS use among U.S. Air Force (USAF) personnel has not been conducted using the same survey instrument, which would permit direct comparisons to DS use by Army personnel.

METHODS: A standardized questionnaire was used to assess DS use, demographic factors, and reasons for use of DS by USAF personnel (N = 1750). Logistic regression models adjusted for age, sex, and rank were used to determine relationships among categories of DS (multivitamin and multimineral, individual vitamins and minerals, protein/amino acid supplements, combination products, herbal supplements, purported steroid analogs, and other) and demographic factors. Findings were compared to reports from other military services and civilian populations.

RESULTS: DS were used by 68% of USAF personnel: 35% used 1–2 DS ≥ 1 time/wk, 13% 3–4 DS ≥ 1 time/wk, and 20% ≥ 5 DS ≥ 1 time/wk. There were 45% of personnel who used a multivitamin and mineral, 33% protein supplements, 22% individual vitamins/minerals, 22% combination products, and 7% herbals. Logistic regression demonstrated aerobic exercise duration and strength training were associated with increased DS use. Individuals who previously deployed were more likely to use DS.

CONCLUSIONS: Like Army personnel, college students and athletes, USAF personnel use more DS than the general population and are more likely to use purported performance enhancing DS, such as protein supplements, and concurrently consume multiple DS.

Austin KG, Price LL, McGraw SM, Leahy G, Lieberman HR. Demographic, lifestyle factors, and reasons for use of dietary supplements by Air Force personnel. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2016; 87(7):628–637.

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Keywords: Armed Forces; deployment history; military operations; multivitamin; occupational health; protein supplements

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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