by Marion Nestle
Jan 30 2014

Supplement infographic: most users are healthy to begin with

I love this new graphic from the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the trade association for the dietary supplement industry.

My favorite: “Supplement consumers are more likely to engage in other healthy habits than non-consumers.”

This is delightfully ambiguous.  Does it mean: Supplements make consumers healthier?

Or does it mean: consumers who are healthy to begin with are the ones who take supplements?

I vote for the latter.  That’s why the great majority of studies of supplements and health show no effect.  Study subjects are already healthy and don’t need them.

The Dietary Supplement Consumer: The 5 W’s answered about the more than two-thirds of U.S. adults taking dietary supplements, according to the most recent annual survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).�



  • TR

    Clearly, someone thinks that supplement users need their wallet thinned down.

  • George

    It means neither of those things, it means what the infographic shows – that supplement users do more of the things they’re TOLD are healthy than other people.
    This can be interpreted many ways – supplement users are (or were) sicker so were motivated to improve their lifestyles, supplement users are generally better educated about health, supplement users have more money to send on “health food” and doctors visits, supplement users are suckers for all forms of unproven quackery, including medical recommendations to eat “balanced” diets, lose weight, exercise more and so on.
    If their idea of a “balanced” diet is based on the old food pyramid, or various other “healthy eating” recommendations, it’s perhaps not surprising that the benefits of supplementation aren’t as obvious as was once predicted.

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  • Cactus_Wren
  • I think the most surprising result is the fact that physicians and pharmacists are trusted more than nutritionists about nutritional information. While I owe my life to great doctors, this is one area in which they are undereducated; and yet the nutritionist, assuming they are an actual Registered Dietician, actually gets less respect.

  • Larry Cleveland RD LD

    Interesting that Doctors are turned to for supplement advice. Interesting that Medicare pays MD’s to counsel obese patients and not RD’s. The Academy of…. is part of the problem by being in bed with big food. The public is learning to not trust us like they are learning not to trust doctors who’s solution is a drug (a pill). We are getting put in the same boat and it’s flat out embarrasing.

  • It doesn’t mean either of those suggestions, I think it’s strictly individually. You can take supplements and still be susceptible to illnesses. Or supplements could improve your overall health status and help you stay away from some ailments. I personally don’t think people should spend money on nutritionists and doctors all the time, just to learn more about these things. We should take the time to educate ourselves, there’s enough material on the web, though we should still ask someone reliable for specific tips and directions. Oh, and another thing – we don’t necessarily need to spend much money on supplements. Overall, it depends on what type of supplement you want to take and for what purpose. Those taking supplements usually have above average knowledge of health, food compounds and how they reflect on the body and how they help battle/prevent certain diseases. So you buy one or two things, depending on your needs, you don’t buy everything that’s in the dietary supplement shop. Surely there are many other things people shouldn’t spend money on and food supplements isn’t among them. Cigarettes and alcohol are just two to begin with.