Nutrient supplements play a key role in managing malnutrition/chronic diseases and are commonly used in the world, but few studies described the prevalence of nutrient supplement use at the national level in China. To our knowledge, this study provides the first detailed investigation of nutrient supplement use in a nationally representative sample of the Chinese population. This study aimed to describe the prevalence of the nutrient supplement use among the Chinese population aged 6 years or older in 2010–2012. A stratified multistage cluster sampling method was conducted to recruit participants from 150 surveillance sites. The demographic characteristics and information about nutrient supplement use were collected through an interview-administrative questionnaire. A total of 74,501 children and adults (excluding the pregnant women) were included in the study (mean age, 35.7 years; male, 47.0%, female, 53.5%). Only 0.71% of the participants reported using nutrient supplements in the previous month. Participants aged 6–11 years and 60 years and above, female, living in large urban, with higher education level and higher family incomes were more likely to use nutrient supplements than their counterparts (p
< 0.05). The prevalence of nutrient supplement use increased with age in Chinese adults. The highest usage among the nutrient supplements was multi-vitamins and minerals with 0.37%. More females used single vitamin, multi-mineral, multi-vitamins and minerals than males (p
< 0.05). The nutrient supplement use proportion was highest amongst the participants with a health problem, and the participants who had no idea about their health conditions were the least likely to use the nutrient supplements (p
< 0.05). The prevalence of nutrient supplement use was low among the Chinese population in 2010–2012. Further research is required to understand the social cognition, usage reasons, dosage and consumption motivation of NS, and the relationships with health effects, to ensure that the nutrient supplements can be appropriately promoted in China.
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