The Relationship Between Weight Status And Complementary Alternative Medicine Special Diet Use
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentPublic Health and Policy
ProgramDoctor of Public Health
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Historically, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Special Diets were considered fad diets and often frowned upon by medical and nutrition practitioners. During the 1950's-1970's when cardiovascular disease, weight-related hypertension and diabetes were epidemic in the United States, evidence emerged that deviant blood lipid profiles may be one of the causes. Health care practitioners began a serious search for diets that could lower blood lipids, and improve weight related hypertension and diabetes. CAM Special Diets were in the mix of diets that showed promise but since they were considered fad diets no NIH funding was expended at that time to assess their efficacy or effectiveness There was neither an accepted evidence base for their efficacy nor effectiveness in treating overweight and weight related chronic diseases but physician advocates such as Drs. Adkins, Pritikins and others promoted their ability in both of these areas. Recently, clinical studies using CAM Special Diets on selected populations have demonstrated efficacy in lowering blood lipids and improving hypertension and diabetes outcomes. In addition exploding CAM book sales, suggest that millions of people are using these diets. Accompanying this increase in CAM Special Diet book sales, there was also a worldwide epidemic in obesity and weight related chronic diseases, greatly increasing medical care cost and stressing health care systems. Based on the historical anecdotal evidence regarding CAM Special Diet use and improved CVD, hypertension and diabetes, given the concurrent trends one open question: What is the relationship between weight status and the use of CAM Special Diets among adults? This study used the 2007 National Health Interview Survey and CAM Supplement to determine if there was an association between weight status and the use of CAM Special Diets among adults 18 to 74 as well as assess whether this relationship changed in the presence of weight related chronic diseases. The study hypotheses were: * Hypothesis 1a: Overweight individuals are more likely to ever use CAM Special Diets than individuals of healthy weight. * Hypothesis 1b: Obese individuals are more likely to ever use CAM Special Diets than individuals of healthy weight. * Hypothesis 2a: Overweight individuals with a chronic disease are more likely to ever use CAM Special Diets than healthy weight individuals with a chronic disease. * Hypothesis 2b: Obese individuals with a chronic disease are more likely to ever use CAM Special Diets than healthy weight individuals with a chronic disease. Findings from this study are the first explicating the demographic profile of CAM Special Diet users. The results show that they are more often used by women, whites, and people of middle age with higher education and income. Results also show that as weight status categories increase, CAM Special Diet use increases. The relationship between CAM Special Diet use and weight status is not changed in the presence of weight related chronic disease as measured by hypertension and diabetes in this study. Since this was a cross sectional design, it is not feasible to draw definitive programmatic inferences from these findings. However, the significance of these results can be found in the historical context of CAM Special Diet use. Given the finding in this study that people who were overweight or obese report using the CAM Special Diets more often and that the history of these Diets being anecdotally related to improving CVD, hypertension and diabetes, these findings provide the much needed evidence to justify future studies to determine if the kind of efficacy currently demonstrated only in clinical studies with selected study samples using CAM Special Diets can be shown in effectiveness studies with the general public.