This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Weight Loss Supplement Use By Gym Clientele




White, Brenda

Type of Degree



Nutrition and Food Science


Obesity remains a major public health problem in the United States. Although practical means, such as a decreasing energy intake, increasing exercise, and modifying behavior, may be used to combat this growing problem, billions are spent yearly on weight loss products. The objective of this study was to examine the use of weight loss supplements among gym clientele. Clientele (n=227) from 14 gyms in central and eastern Alabama and central, western Georgia completed an anonymous supplement use questionnaire which asked about the use of weight loss and multivitamin/mineral supplements, alcohol and smoking, and health problems. Use of weight loss supplements among the surveyed gym clientele was 16.3%. Use of weight loss supplements did not significantly differ between women (16.2%) and men (16.5%), or between individuals <49 years (16.4%) versus those >50 years (16.2%). Weight loss supplement use also did not significantly differ by race, or between smokers and non-smokers, or beverage alcohol users versus non-alcohol users. There was no difference in weight loss supplement use among study participants based on frequency of gym attendance. Sixty-one percent of study participants were classified as overweight or obese based on body mass index (BMI); however, weight loss supplement use did not significantly differ between those with a BMI < 24.9 kg/m2 (14.3%) versus those with a BMI > 25.0 kg/m2 (18.0%). Multivitamin/mineral supplement use by study participants was 59.5%, with individuals <49 years using these supplements (55.8%) significantly less than those >50 years (78.4%). Weight loss supplement use by study participants reporting health problems was significantly higher (27.8%) than those who did not report any health problems (13.4%). Weight loss supplements containing ephedra, yohimbe, bitter orange, or a combination of these were more commonly used (70.3%) than those containing other active ingredients (29.7%). Six study participants (16.2%) used two or more weight loss supplements. Adverse side effects were reported by 16.2% of participants using weight loss supplements. In conclusion, while use of weight loss supplements was not as prevalent as use of multivitamin/minerals by gym clientele, about 1 in every 6 persons who went to a gym reported weight loss supplement use. Further, the significantly greater weight loss supplement use by gym clients with reported existing health problems is particularly troublesome and may put them at higher risk of adverse side effects. Additional efforts by gyms to provide accurate educational information on weight loss supplements to its membership may be warranted. Health care professionals also need to inquire about the use of such supplements with patients and provide education as needed.