Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Marsha Spence

Committee Members

Betsy Haughton, Trena Paulus


The purpose of this study was to assess differences in the use of dietary supplements and beliefs related to their use based on college major, physical activity frequency, and weight status among college students enrolled in an introductory nutrition class. A secondary database consisting of introductory nutrition students at University of Tennessee, Knoxville during spring semester 2008 was used and contained a sample of 306 participants. Data were taken from results of a two part survey. The first section asked participants to respond about their use of dietary supplements and the second section asked participants to respond to their beliefs statements about supplements. Dietary supplements were assessed in 3 categories: vitamin and minerals, herbals, and ergogenic aids. Results showed that the most commonly used dietary supplements were vitamins and minerals with 228 (74.5%) of respondents reporting that they consumed at least 1 vitamin or mineral supplement in the last 12 months. While only 23 (7.5%) respondents reported using ergogenic aids, the use of this supplement category varied the most based upon major, weight status, and physical activity. Non-health-related majors (19.6% versus 9.0% of Health-related majors, p<0.01), overweight and obese individuals (26.7% versus 8.2% of normal and underweight respondents, p<0.001), and those who exercised daily (21.7% compared to 8.2% who exercised weekly or less, p<0.001) were more likely to take them. Major played no role in health beliefs scores, but individuals that exercised daily and those who were overweight or obese had higher mean beliefs scores, showing stronger health beliefs related to dietary supplements. Use of ergogenic aids varied the most based upon study variables. Therefore, future research should focus on determining reasons for this.

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Included in

Nutrition Commons