Natural Foods Merchandiser

DSEA study finds health care savings

A study finding that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids and lutein with zeaxanthin could save American senior citizens $5.6 billion in health care costs during the next five years has resulted in the formation of a bipartisan Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus.

The study, commissioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance and released Nov. 2, was conducted by The Lewin Group, a Falls Church, Va.-based health care consulting firm. A similar study, which found that regular intake of calcium and folic acid could save more than $15 billion in health care costs over five years, was released in 2004.

The Lewin Group analyzed hundreds of studies conducted over the last 30 years on omega-3s and lutein with zeaxanthin. The group concluded that an 1,800 milligram daily dose of omega-3s could reduce coronary heart disease in people over age 65, resulting in 384,303 fewer hospitalizations over the next five years and a consequent $3.1 billion savings in health care expenditures.

Seniors who take 6 milligrams to 10 milligrams a day of lutein with zeaxanthin could reduce their susceptibility to age-related macular degeneration, The Lewin Group found. During the next five years, that would result in 98,219 fewer people losing their independence because of advanced AMD, saving $2.5 billion in caregiving costs.

Although this year?s Lewin Group study wasn?t as widely reported as last year?s, Natrol Chief Executive and DSEA President Elliot Balbert is pleased the findings resulted in the creation of the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus.

?This is the first-ever assembly of congressional representatives that will collectively be supporting our interests,? he said. ?It puts their views in a public forum and sends a message to their colleagues that there is bipartisan support for continued availability and access to these vital products.?

The caucus, headed by Reps. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Dan Burton, D-Ind., is still in the formation stage, said Cannon?s spokesman, Charles Isom. ?We have three co-chairs, and we?re looking for a fourth [Republican member] to make it bipartisan.?

Isom said the caucus? goal is to ?educate members of Congress—in a bipartisan manner?regarding dietary supplement use, and to promote health and well-being.?

Balbert said DSEA plans to commission further studies on supplements? role in reducing health care costs. ?The industry lobbyists used [the 2004 study] extensively in all lobbying efforts,? and reports had been highly favorable, he said.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVI/number 12/p. 7

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