The primary objective is to evaluate the use of dietary supplements (i.e. doses, patterns of use, expectations) in a military population. Service members may be particularly susceptible to specific side effects because of their levels of physical activity and occupational work environment. The ultimate goal is to provide evidence-based knowledge products to inform and improve interventions, guidelines, and policy through key stakeholders. This unique aspect of this study could potentially form the basis for a permanent DoD surveillance system to detect adverse effects of dietary supplements before large numbers of service members are injured when new dietary supplements are introduced into the marketplace.
The Supplement Use Study was designed, in collaboration with Naval Health Research Center (NHRC) in San Diego, California, the United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) in Natick, Massachusetts, Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch, under the Defense Health Agency, Operations (J3), Public Health Division in Silver Spring, Maryland. Launched in December 2018, the Supplement Use Study invited a probability-based random sample of 200,000 active duty military personnel from all the Services to join the study. Invited participants were requested to complete one baseline survey and one follow-up survey 6 to 9 months later. Almost 27,000 service members completed a portion of the baseline survey. Survey information includes use of supplements, amount of exercise and sleep, and military experiences including deployments. These data are linked to objective enterprise databases, including military healthcare utilization records.
Pilot studies conducted in all the services by the same collaborators demonstrated a prevalence of dietary supplement use in the military considerably higher than reported in the civilian US population, and considerably higher among women than men; National Health and Nutritional Surveys (NHANES). This longitudinal study aims to better understand those differences and the possible implications to force readiness of a relatively young active duty military.
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