JOURNAL ARTICLE

Use of complementary and alternative medicine for weight control in the United States

Patricia A Sharpe, Heidi M Blanck, Joel E Williams, Barbara E Ainsworth, Joan M Conway
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: Research on Paradigm, Practice, and Policy 2007, 13 (2): 217-22
17388764

OBJECTIVES: The purpose was to assess the prevalence and correlates of complementary and alternative medicine use for weight control.

DESIGN: A list-assisted random-digit-dialed telephone survey of adults was conducted in the fall of 2002 (n = 11,211). The focus of the study was complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use, other than dietary supplements, in the previous 12 months.

SETTINGS/LOCATION: The sample of respondents was drawn from the total noninstitutionalized U.S. adult population residing in telephone-equipped locations.

SUBJECTS: The sampling procedures were designed to obtain adequate representation of Hispanic and non-Hispanic black respondents. Data from the total sample of 11,211 were weighted to achieve an estimate of the U.S. population. Analyses focused on 372 people who had used CAM within the previous 12 months.

RESULTS: Of the total, 3.3% (n = 372) had used a CAM therapy in the previous 12 months. Higher adjusted odds ratios for CAM use were found among respondents who were exercising for weight control; using a lower carbohydrate, higher protein diet; using a nonprescription weight-loss product(s); overweight; physically active; and not satisfied with one's body (adjusted for age, race, gender, education, and city size). The most often used therapies were yoga (57.4%), meditation (8.2%), acupuncture (7.7%), massage (7.5%), and Eastern martial arts (5.9%). CAM users used CAM therapies on their own (62.6%), in a group setting (26.8%) or with a CAM practitioner (10.6%).

CONCLUSIONS: The use of CAM therapies other than dietary supplements for weight loss was relatively low. The most popular therapy was yoga, and the majority of CAM users used CAM therapies on their own. Persons who had used other weight loss methods had greater odds for using CAM in the previous 12 months, suggesting that CAM use is often added to other weight-loss strategies.

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