The Dietary Supplement Education Alliance (DSEA) announced that it would expand its scope in 2004 to include a focus on educating members of Congress and their staff about dietary supplements. Initiatives planned for 2004 will help lawmakers understand the important public health benefits of dietary supplements.
“Dietary supplements are a hot topic in Congress right now, and we have to ensure that our lawmakers understand the important role that these products play in public health,” said Elliott Balbert, DSEA Board Chairman. “Most members of Congress do not understand what dietary supplements are, how they keep people healthy, or how they actually reduce healthcare costs.”
The DSEA plan includes a mix of special events on Capitol Hill, economic and public health impact studies, advertising, and regular communications with members and their staff. The primary goals of the strategy are to communicate the following:
- Definition: With so much misinformation in the media, legislators are confused about what dietary supplements are. A basic message of the campaign will focus on defining this term for them.
- Health Benefits: Legislators need to understand the critical role that dietary supplements play in public health. >From folic acid to prevent birth defects, to calcium to prevent osteoporosis, to the many herbs and other products that people use to stay healthy, dietary supplements are a key component of the nation’s health.
- Economic Impact: Dietary supplements have a positive economic impact in two ways. First, the industry itself provides and creates jobs, generates tax revenue, and is an important part of the economy. Second, the use of dietary supplements improves health and reduces health care costs.
“Educating lawmakers about these issues fits perfectly within the mission of the DSEA,” Balbert said. “Our mission is to ‘improve public health by communicating the benefits of dietary supplements,’ and public health will improve if lawmakers understand the importance of these products. Informed members of Congress are much more likely to support intelligent legislation that taps into the huge potential of dietary supplements.”
The DSEA also announced that industry support for its mission is growing, with fundraising well ahead of the previous year. More than $300,000 has already been raised for the 2004 activities from a broad coalition of companies and organizations.
Initiatives that focus on communicating to the media will also continue in 2004. These initiatives include regular press releases and scientific updates, expert interviews, and one-on-one meetings with key members of the press.
The DSEA is funded by more than 70 companies within the dietary supplement industry, and is led by a board of directors that includes manufacturers, suppliers, trade associations, educational institutions and industry media.