Attitudes towards nutritional supplement use amongst adult gymnasium users in Johannesburg North
Background: Nutritional supplements refer to a product ingested to increase the nutritional content of a normal diet, to fill a dietary need and/or presumed deficiency. The usage and popularity of nutritional supplements, however, raises concerns from a health benefit and risk perspective. In South Africa, there is currently no adequate regulatory framework of enforcement for nutritional supplement products and undeclared constituents by the statutory body, the Medicines Control Council (MCC). Education awareness programmes by organisations that should take consumer protection and the general public health and wellness as a right, needs to be improved. Objectives: To investigate the attitudes toward nutritional supplements by adult gym users from commercial gymnasiums in the Johannesburg North region of South Africa. Methods: A cross-sectional quantitative design, using a selfadministered questionnaire was applied to 364 recruited study participants who attended commercial gymnasiums in Johannesburg North. Results: One hundred and fifty users (41%) claimed that they ‘always’ read the information about the nutritional values, benefits, and side effects of the supplements on the labels prior to use. Three hundred and three users (83%) indicated that the number of users of nutritional supplements in gymnasiums is on the increase. Two hundred and seventy-three (75%) of main information sources for nutritional supplements may be found on the internet, while 292 (80%) indicated the need for gymnasiums to provide educational programmes pertaining to nutritional supplement consumption. Conclusion: Gymnasium users are aware of the increase in nutritional supplement use in commercial gymnasiums. Many of the users were unaware of the potential mislabelling and health concerns regarding these supplements. Therefore there is a need for improved nutritional supplement education programmes and diligence at multiple levels.