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Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use for weight loss and control: Results from a national survey

Patricia A. Sharpe, PhD, MPH1, Joan M. Conway, PhD, RD2, Barbara E. Ainsworth, PhD, MPH3, and Joel E. Williams, MPH1. (1) Prevention Research Center, University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health, 730 Devine Street, Columbia, SC 29208, 803 777-4253, pasharpe@sc.edu, (2) USDA, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Ctr. Diet and Human Performance Laboratory, Bldg 307B Room 213, Beltsville, MD 20705, (3) Dept. of Exercise and Nutritional Science, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182

Background: Purpose was to identify prevalence and correlates of CAM use for weight loss in a national sample of adults. Methods: The 2002 National Physical Activity and Weight Loss Survey (n = 11,211) assessed CAM use for weight loss / control. List-assisted sampling (RDD) of U.S. households with random selection of adults 18+ within households was used. Odds ratios were computed with SUDAAN. Results: 892 (8.0%) respondents reported they had ever used CAM. Among those who reported CAM use within the past 12 months, significant associations with self-reported CAM use were found for females, whites, younger age (<55), higher income (> $50,000 annually), and higher education. Of the 372 (70%) respondents who had used CAM in the past 12 months, the top five primary CAM methods were yoga (57.4%), meditation (8.2%), massage (7.5%), acupuncture (7.7%), Eastern martial arts (5.9%). Unadjusted Odds Ratios showed that use of CAM methods for weight loss/control in the past 12 months was associated with use of exercise for weight control (OR=3.1, 95% CI=2.2,4.5), use of a high-protein diet (OR=1.7, CI=1.5,2.7), use of non-prescription weight loss products (i.e., supplements) (OR=2.6, CI=2.0,3.4), physical activity level (meeting the CDC-ACSM guidelines) (OR= 7.1, CI=3.8,13.4), and body dissatisfaction (OR=1.7, CI=1.2,2.4). CAM use was not associated with BMI category or having a chronic disease. Conclusions. Use of CAM therapies for weight control was low. In these analyses, its use was not associated with body mass index. CAM users were likely to report other strategies as well, such as exercise and supplements.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Survey, Alternative Medicine/Therapies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Growing Prevalence of Alternative and Complementary Health Practices: Obstacles and Opportunities for Health Professionals and Consumers

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA