The survey, conducted by the French food agency, AFSSA (Agence Francaise de securite sanitaire des aliments), found 26.5 per cent of women but only 12.6 per cent of men consumed supplements in the last year.
Across the board, supplements use increased with education levels, and advice from the medical profession is the main reason for use leading to 23 per cent of food supplements consumed by adults and 37 per cent consumed by women being classified as drugs.
Food supplements users are typically cure-seekers as well as those seeking to maintain general health levels, with 20 per cent of adults and 10 per cent of children using supplements on a daily basis for these purposes.
“Supplements are more rarely consumed to achieve a balanced diet,” the report said.
But 63 per cent of food supplements consumed by adults and 79 per cent of supplements consumed by children were either multivitamin blends or mixed with other products.
Botanicals represented 20 per cent of products consumed by adults and 10 per cent for kids.
The study involved 2624 adults (18 to 74 years old) and 1455 children (3 to 17). It was conducted in three waves between late 2005 and April 2007, in order to show seasonal variety.
The participants were recruited by telephone or by face-to-face contact with professional investigators; they were asked to complete a 7-day food record.
Investigators paid two visits to the participants’ homes to ensure correct completion of questionnaires, and followed up with reminder telephone calls between visits.