Survey Reveals Regional Health Preferences

Hyattsville, MD—The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released its latest data brief, and findings suggest some very curious results with regard to Americans and their approaches to complementary health.

This study is based off of previous data taken in the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, where 34,525 people 18 years or older were interviewed on their health and healthcare by interviewers from the Census Bureau. For the purposes of this study, researchers specifically focused on interviewees’ complementary health practices, which can be defined as any health approach outside of traditional healthcare.

The results of the survey pointed to four standout practices among U.S. adults: nonvitamin, nonmineral dietary supplements, which 17.9% of subjects reported using, practitioner-based chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation (8.5%), yoga with deep breathing or meditation (8.4%), and massage therapy (6.8%). Other approaches used by U.S. adults included meditation (4.1%) and special diets (3.0%). Of particular note, though, is the regional distribution of these results. For example, yoga was 40% higher in the Pacific and Mountain regions than the national average. The Pacific, Mountain, and West North Central regions ranked highest in dietary supplements and massage therapy, while the West North Central region favored chiropractic/osteopathic manipulation most. Overall, the East used the least amount of complementary health practices, keeping with the national average in some categories but falling below in most.

Previous research has suggested that environmental and cultural factors unique to towns and regions as well as economic play a role in differences in health behaviors and health measures in the U.S. population. Judging from the results in this report, these factors may have a similar effect on complementary health practices as well.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, July 2014