CDC Foundation Announces $3.5 Million Program on the Health Effects of Nutritional Supplementation

ATLANTA, Jan 05, 2005 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The CDC Foundation has established a $3.5 million program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct data analysis and educational activities focused on the potential role of dietary supplementation to address specific nutritional needs. The Optimal Nutrition and Long-Term Health Project will emphasize the importance of specific nutrients in preventing birth defects and low birth weight as well as examine the nutrient status of an obese and dieting population. Wyeth Consumer Healthcare is the lead financial supporter of the project, along with BASF Corporation and DSM Nutritional Products, Inc.

One of the components of the Optimal Nutrition and Long-Term Health Project is an educational and communications campaign targeting women of childbearing age. The campaign, which is currently in the research and planning phase, will highlight the benefits of folic acid from a multivitamin in preventing birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. With assistance from the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition and the National Council on Folic Acid, the campaign will engage several key audiences to reach women, including obstetricians, gynecologists and family practitioners. The funding partners will also lend their communication resources to help with the distribution of these messages.

"Scientific evidence already exists demonstrating that certain nutritional supplements can have dramatic health benefits," says Jose Cordero, M.D., M.P.H., of CDC's National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. "For example, we know that folic acid, if taken before conception and throughout the first trimester, can reduce the risk for some birth defects by 50 to 70 percent. Unfortunately most women of childbearing age in the United States do not consume enough folic acid. The message is not getting out."

The second component of the project is an analysis of the nutrient status of obese, overweight and dieting individuals.

"Using existing data gathered from two national studies, we will look at overall micronutrient status relative to body mass index, dieting practices and supplement use," says William Dietz, M.D., Ph.D., director of CDC's Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity. "This analysis will provide important information about a growing subgroup of the population and their nutrient needs as they try to control their weight."

Dr. Dietz and his group will also look at patterns of supplement use and attitudes about multivitamins among this population to identify factors that may impact messages on supplementation. Findings from these analyses will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal for dissemination to the nutrition community.

"The CDC Foundation is pleased to have such a diverse group of participants involved in this important endeavor," says Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. "We are grateful for the lead funding provided by Wyeth Consumer Healthcare and their funding partners BASF and DSM. Their support will allow us to bring together experts from different centers at CDC as well as from other non-profit groups to explore issues around supplementation and optimal nutrition. This collaboration is really the first- of-its kind for the CDC Foundation and can serve as a model for future projects that help CDC further its mission."

"As the leading manufacturer of multivitamins, Wyeth Consumer Healthcare is proud to be a part of this project and work with our partners to gain a clearer understanding of these two important public health issues," says Ulf Wiinberg, president, Wyeth Consumer Healthcare. "With our combined knowledge, resources and expertise, we look forward to conducting research and developing programs to help educate Americans on the important role of optimal nutrition in long-term health."

The CDC Foundation is an independent, non-profit enterprise that forges effective partnerships between CDC and others to fight threats to health and safety.

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