Title : The status of supplement use among Canadian university students: is there a need for additional nutrition education programs?
Given the increased use of dietary supplements with little or no professional guidance, we identified a need to explore the prevalence and determinants of dietary supplement use in populations at risk including university students. In fact, there is evidence to support the harmful implications of contamination with prohibited substances, supplement-supplement interactions, supplement-drug interactions, allergic reactions, and incorrect product dosing when taking dietary supplements without or with little professional guidance. Irrespective of physical activity levels, we identified a prevalent use of supplements among Canadian athlete and non-athlete university students. Overall, 58.3% of varsity athlete and 43.4% of non-athlete students at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, reported having used at least one type of dietary supplement in the past six months. Although most participants referred to healthcare professionals for information on dietary supplements, many continued to depend on unreliable sources including family, friends, peers, the internet and the media. Using the Theory of Planned Behavior model to explore the psychosocial determinants of supplement use, attitude, injunctive norm and perceived behavioral control were found to be significant predictors of the intention to use dietary supplements, and attitude, injunctive norm and intention were significant predictors of engaging in the supplementation behavior. These findings highlight the need for the development and dissemination of additional nutrition education programs and resources on dietary supplements, their benefits as well as their potential risks.