150 million Americans take vitamins and other supplements every year. These people place health care issues as a top-two priority in their lives.

The economy, as regular Health Populi readers know, has been Issue #1 for the majority of Americans since mid-2008. The 2008 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements confirms this.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) is the trade group in Washington, D.C., that represents dietary supplement manufacturers and suppliers to the industry.

The interesting wrinkle in this survey is that the CRN measured differences between citizens who take supplements and those who do not.

As the chart above shows, people who take vitamins and supplements are more engaged with their health than those who do not, based on every health behavior ranked by CRN. These include exercising regularly, eating right, regular visits to physicians, and getting sufficient sleep.

The 2008 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements was conducted in August 2008 by Ipsos Public Affairs among a national sample of 2,013 adults ages 18 and older from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: The most interesting data point I found in this survey is that people who regularly consume vitamins, minerals and supplements place a high value on seeing their doctors. This represents 360-degree engagement, and a consumer approach to integrative (or “whole”) health. 73% of supplement users see a physician regularly compared to 54% who do so.

Health engagement breeds healthy behaviors. See Edelman’s Health Engagement Barometer for more on that issue, which I’ve written about here in Health Populi in Health Engagement and Patient Activation.

In this regard, it’s interesting to look at newer entrants into the supplement field: food companies such as Kraft (working with Medisyn Technologies to identify specific health benefits in foods) and Campbell’s (which is adapting the new USDA food pyramid in a website called My Pyramid App), who are engaging with consumers leveraging their rich understandings of consumer marketing. More traditional health suppliers need to learn from these companies when trying to change patient-citizens’ health behaviors for the better (such as prescription drug compliance, physical therapy and exercise regimens following joint replacements and bypass surgeries, and the like).