While a high percentage of the population believes in taking vitamin supplements, nutritionists support eating a balanced diet as the best nutritional method to promote and maintain the health of the average person. Physicians are an important source of nutrition information, and their beliefs about nutrition may influence practices of their patients. This study examined physicians' beliefs about the importance of vitamin supplements and a balanced diet. In a mail survey of 1,040 family/general practitioners, internists, and obstetricians/gynecologists in Maryland, we found that almost all the physicians surveyed (97%) believed eating a balanced diet was very or somewhat important for the health of the average person, while only 27% believed that taking vitamins was important. A majority of those surveyed (71%) believed that eating a balanced diet but not taking vitamin supplements was important, and a minority (26%) supported both eating a balanced diet and taking vitamin supplements. More than other physicians, obstetricians/gynecologists believed vitamins were important. Two-thirds of the physicians surveyed were interested in continuing medical education about nutrition, with strongest interest among physicians who believed a balanced diet and vitamin supplements were important. Most physicians believe in the concept of an unsupplemented balanced diet, but for some, support for eating a balanced diet does not preclude belief in the importance of vitamin supplements for health promotion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health