Hong Kong Med J 2011;17:365–71 | Number 5, October 2011
Use of nutritional health supplements and associated factors among parents with children at kindergartens in Hong Kong
SY Leung, CM Lum
School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVES. To estimate the prevalence of so-called nutritional health supplement consumption among kindergarten children; secondarily to explore potential factors associated with such consumption.
DESIGN. Cross-sectional, self-administered questionnaire survey.
SETTING. One kindergarten each in Hong Kong island, Kowloon, and the New Territories region.
SUBJECTS. Parents who had a child studying at the three sampled kindergartens in April 2010.
RESULTS. Of 951 sets of parents, 730 (77%) responded. Approximately 52% (95% confidence interval, 47-58%) of the respondents gave regular health supplements to their child. The commonest type of supplement given was cod fish oil (69%). Approximately 36% of the respondents did not know the upper limit dosage of their supplement. Parents of only 66% of regular health supplements consumers, compared to 75% of non-regular users, knew that there was an inherent risk from over-consumption (P=0.018). Parental beliefs that “It is useful/important for normal child development” (adjusted odds ratio=1.93; 95% confidence interval, 1.18-3.16; P=0.009), “It is useful/important for immune function” (1.79; 1.05-3.05; P=0.032) were associated with consumption of health such supplements.
CONCLUSION. There is high rate of health supplement consumption among healthy kindergarten children in Hong Kong. There are wrong beliefs from parents that health supplements are important for normal-growing children for their normal growth and body immunity. About one-third of parents has limited knowledge on potential side-effects of overdose and do not know the limit of consumption. Education on “Less (health supplement) is more (health)” is recommended.
Key words: Child, preschool; Dietary supplements; Health food; Minerals/administration & dosage; Vitamins/administration & dosage
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