College Education on Dietary Supplements May Promote Responsible Use In Young Adults

J Diet Suppl. 2020;17(1):67-80. doi: 10.1080/19390211.2018.1482983. Epub 2018 Sep 25.


Dietary supplement (DS) use is increasing among college students. Early adulthood is a critical developmental stage when behavioral trends are established with potential health implications. Many studies have suggested a proper college education on DSs is needed, but no follow-up reports exist in the literature. The purpose of the study was to compare DS use in college students with and without a formal education on DSs. An anonymous survey was sent over electronic mailing lists of different social and professional student groups, including students in the health and wellness studies (HWS) minor (HM) at Binghamton University. A total of 308 students completed the study. A statistical framework using multivariate analyses was designed to assess pattern of use and identify variables of interest. Principal component analysis recognized five patterns collectively contributing to 66.75% of the variance. PC 1 characterized as tobacco use, PC 2 labeled as body weight, PC 3 categorized as exercise, PC 4 labeled as educated use, and PC 5 is considered Greek-life lifestyle. Participants were then partitioned into HM versus HWS nonminor (NM). Common factor analysis was performed to extract significant variables pertaining to each pattern. Results reflected driving forces common to both groups. However, new trends surfaced in HM. A regression analysis suggests that DS use in HM is based on knowledge, whereas NM use is specifically targeted toward certain lifestyles. In addition, HM are more likely to discontinue a DS with formal knowledge. Therefore, college education on DS may be promoting a healthy pattern of supplement use.

Keywords: college education; common factorial analysis; dietary supplements; principal component analysis; regression analysis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Curriculum
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Students*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities*
  • Young Adult