Perception, sources and consumption pattern of health supplements in Bhutan
Though health supplements are purported to supplement diet, they are associated with risk to health. The regulatory authorities restrict marketing of health supplements for the treatment or prevention of disease. However, aggressive marketing fueled by the increased quest for improving overall health and availability has led to increased use of health supplements. To analyze the risk and design effective regulatory strategies, this study was conducted. This study reports the prevalence, source, consumption pattern and public perception of health supplements in Bhutan. A cross-sectional quantitative study was carried out from 2018 to 2019 covering major towns of all the 20 districts of Bhutan. The sample sites were selected based on convenience. A total of 463 participants were randomly selected and interviewed using a structured survey questionnaire. The data collected was analyzed using Microsoft Excel. The study revealed that 58.7% (n=272) of the respondents knew about the health supplements while 31.3% (n=145) of respondents used health supplements in the last 12 months prior to the survey. It was reported to be used mostly by the younger age group (21-30 years) and they were mostly influenced by friends 61.4% (n=89). 77.2% (n=112) of the users perceived that the health supplements they used were effective and only 18.6% of the users reported consulting health professionals prior to use. This study concludes that most of the users are driven by aggressive marketing strategies, thereby prompting regulatory agencies to demystify wrong beliefs and create awareness on the health risks with support of the health professionals targeting the young population through various platforms.
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