Get Involved
About Us
Our Members
Prevention Magazine Assesses Use of Dietary Supplements.
A telephone survey, conducted between April 27 and May 16, 1999 by Prevention Magazine and Princeton Survey Research Associates of a nationally representative sampling of 2,000 adults, resulted in the following findings:(*)


- The number of adults in the age group 45 to 64 will grow 51% by the year 2010.

- Health care expenditures increase 39% when the head of household turns 55.

- Consumers are dubious of the health care system; 47% think their plan is more concerned about making money than providing care.

- The market is characterized as a selfcare market, not an alternative care nor supplements market.


According to the survey the following statistics were developed:

- 49% (91,147,209) use of an herbal remedy in the past 12 months.

- 24% (44,643,531) regular use of an herbal remedy.

- Regular use of herbal remedies; garlic, 13%; ginseng, 8%; ginkgo, 7%; St. John's wort, 4%; echinacea, 3%.

- Use of herbal remedies as needed: garlic, 6%; ginseng, 6%; ginkgo, 4%; St. John's wort, 4%; echinacea 2%.

- Common reasons for using herbal remedies: ensure good health (75%); improve energy (61%); prevent/treat colds and flu (58%); improve memory (43%); reduce anxiety (41%); ease depression (35%); prevent/treat serious illnesses (29%).

- Length of time consumers will use herbal remedies without results: week or less (18%); 2-3 weeks (20%); about a month (28%); two or more months (23%).

- How consumers use herbal remedies: instead of prescriptions (36%); with prescriptions (31%); instead of OTC products (48%); with OTC products (30%).

- Reasons for using herbal remedies instead of a prescription: prefer natural/organic products (43%); fewer side effects (21%): more effective (14%); allowed me to treat myself (11%); less expensive (8%); more gentle/mild (6%).

- Reasons for using herbal products instead of OTC products: prefer natural/organic products (47%); fewer side effects (17%); more effective (17%); less expensive (10%); more gentle/mild (8%).


- Where consumers learn about herbal dietary supplements: friends and family (51%); product labels (41%); magazines (43%): doctor (28%); books (38%); advertising (39%); pharmacist (23%); health food store (28%); alternative medicine practitioner (19%); the Internet (13%); 1/800 number (10%).

- Reading labeling information on dietary supplements: always (79%); most of the time (10%); sometimes/never (10%).

- Top items "always" looked for on dietary supplements labels: recommended do sage (86%); expiration date (71%); weight/number of capsules in package (68%); possible side effects (63%); product warnings (63%); possible interactions (58%).

- Confidence in accuracy of dietary supplement labels: very (32%): somewhat (55%); not too/not at all (10%).


- Federal government regulates supplements to ensure safety: don't know (16%); no (50%); yes (34%). - Perceptions of the safety of dietary supplements: very sate (26%); somewhat safe (53%); unsafe (9%). - Remember FDA disclaimer on herbal remedy labels: yes (65%): no (35%). - Consumer and FDA disclaimers on herbal remedy labels: Makes more skeptical about benefits of product (31%); Makes less likely to purchase the product (24%). SUMMARY - Widespread use of dietary supplements: 44.6 million Americans use herbal remedies regularly. - This is a self-care market, not a dietary supplements market: 74.4 million are more likely to treat themselves first; many use herbal remedies instead of or with OTC products and prescriptions. - Consumers purchase from large stores: pharmacies, chain drug stores, discount stores like Kmart and Wal-Mart, and grocery stores, not health food stores or Internet. - Producers can build their market by increasing consumer confidence: low confidence in labeling information; low confidence in product safety; FDA disclaimer not currently helping confidence. (*)Margin of error of +/-2%age points. [Extrapolated from Prevention Magazine's 1999 National Survey of Consumer Use of Dietary Supplements, April/May 1999 (unpublished); used with permission of Prevention Magazine.] Article copyright American Botanical Council. ~~~~~~~~ By Barbara A. Johnston