Household Expenditures on Dietary Supplements Sold for Weight Loss, Muscle Building, and Sexual Function: Disproportionate Burden by Gender and Income

24 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2017

See all articles by S. Austin

S. Austin

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Kimberly Yu

Harvard University - Boston Children’s Hospital

Selena Liu

Simmons College

Fan Dong

Bates College - Department of Economics

Nathan Tefft

Bates College

Date Written: March 9, 2017

Abstract

Dietary supplements sold for weight loss (WL), muscle building (MB), and sexual function (SF) are not medically recommended. They have been shown to be ineffective in many cases and pose serious health risks to consumers due to adulteration with banned substances, prescription pharmaceuticals, and other dangerous chemicals. Yet no prior research has investigated how these products may disproportionately burden individuals and families by gender and socioeconomic position across households. We investigated household (HH) cost burden of dietary supplements sold for WL, MB, and SF in a cross-sectional study using data from 60,538 U.S. households (HH) in 2012 Nielsen/IRi National Consumer Panel, calculating annual HH expenditures on WL, MB, and SF supplements and expenditures as proportions of total annual HH income. We examined sociodemographic patterns in HH expenditures using Wald tests of mean differences across subgroups. Among HH with any expenditures on WL, MB, or SF supplements, annual HH first and ninth expenditure deciles were, respectively: WL $5.99, $145.36; MB $6.99, $141.93; and SF $4.98, $88.52. Conditional on any purchases of the products, female-male-headed HH spent more on WL supplements and male-headed HH spend more on MB and SF supplements compared to other HH types (p-values<0.01). High-income ($30,000<annual income<$100,000), compared to low-income (annual income<$30,000) HH, spent more on all three supplements types (p-values<0.01); however, proportional to income, low-income HH spent 2-4 times more than high-income HH on WL and MB supplements (p-values<0.01). Dietary supplements sold for WL, MB, and SF disproportionately burden HH by income and gender.

Keywords: Dietary supplements; weight loss; muscle building; sexual function; disparities

Suggested Citation

Austin, S. and Yu, Kimberly and Liu, Selena and Dong, Fan and Tefft, Nathan, Household Expenditures on Dietary Supplements Sold for Weight Loss, Muscle Building, and Sexual Function: Disproportionate Burden by Gender and Income (March 9, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2944051 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2944051

S. Austin

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health ( email )

677 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA MA 02115
United States

Kimberly Yu

Harvard University - Boston Children’s Hospital ( email )

300 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Selena Liu

Simmons College ( email )

300 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Fan Dong

Bates College - Department of Economics ( email )

Lewiston, ME 04240
United States

Nathan Tefft (Contact Author)

Bates College ( email )

Lewiston, ME 04240
United States

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