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Bodybuilding, Energy, and Weight-Loss Supplements are Associated with Deployment and Physical Activity in U.S. Military Personnel

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Journal article

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The characteristics of U.S. military personnel using dietary supplements have not been well described. Self-reported data from active-duty, Reserve, and National Guard participants in the Millennium Cohort Study n106,698 were used to determine whether deployment experience and physical activity were associated with the use of bodybuilding, energy, or weight-loss supplements. The study included participants from all three panels of the Cohort Study who completed a questionnaire during the 2007-2008 survey cycle. Defense Manpower Data Center files containing demographic, military, and occupational information were linked to each participant, including date of birth, marital status, sex, raceethnicity, occupation, service component, education level, and pay grade. We used multivariable logistic regression sex-stratified models to compare the adjusted odds of each type of supplement use among those with deployment experience in support of operations in Iraq or Afghanistan and those engaged in aerobic or strength-training activities. Overall, 46.7 of participants reported using at least one type of supplement during the year prior to survey submission, and 22.0 reported using multiple supplement types. Male deployers were 25 more likely to use bodybuilding supplements, and female deployers were 16 more likely to use weight-loss supplements, when compared with nondeployed personnel. Strength training was associated with a more than two-fold increase in bodybuilding supplement use. Physically active and younger subjects reported all types of supplement use. Men and women reporting 5 or less hours of sleep per night were more likely to use energy supplements. The high prevalence of supplement use and important characteristics found to be associated with their use, including deployment experience, physical activity, problem drinking, and suboptimal sleep, suggest focus areas for future research and adverse event monitoring.

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  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Medicine and Medical Research
  • Food, Food Service and Nutrition
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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