2005-10-27 - Dietary Supplement Education Alliance (DSEA)
Washington, D.C. (October 27, 2005) – As American adults become more educated about their healthcare options, a new consumer survey estimates 187 million of them are choosing dietary supplements to improve their overall health and well being. The Barometer Survey, a nationwide online poll conducted by the Natural Marketing Institute, reports 85 percent of the population believes that using nutritional supplements can keep them healthier, while 72 percent wants to have control over their health decisions, including the kind of supplements they should be able to use. Government should have a role, according to three quarters of those polled, that includes funding more research; however seven out of 10 surveyed said its role should not include limiting or restricting access to supplements.
“The consumer voice is loud and clear in this survey. The majority of adult Americans are positively benefiting from the use of dietary supplements and they are seeking more information and research on supplements, not government restrictions on availability,” said Elliott Balbert, President of the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance (DSEA), which sponsors the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau. “Many scientific studies point to the relationship between certain dietary supplements and health improvement and now we have the consumer perspective corroborating that research. It is time for sound public policy that supports additional research, acknowledges the potential cost savings that result from improved health through supplements and supports responsible health consumers who purchase their own supplements.”
As health care costs continue to climb in the United States and policymakers search for ways to curb health care spending, consumers surveyed who use dietary supplements address at least part of the problem. Seventy percent of those polled said they believe that being healthier through dietary supplements will reduce their overall health care costs and that dietary supplements should be covered by their health insurance, even if they have to pay a little more. The majority surveyed also support a tax deduction for supplements, a provision addressed in H.R. 1545, legislation introduced in Congress that would allow supplement costs to be paid by Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).
“People staying healthier longer will save the health care system money. That’s a fact,” said Jon Benninger, president-elect of DSEA. “A savings opportunity was demonstrated in the Health Impact Study completed by The Lewin Group last year which indicated that $15 billion in health care costs could be saved by appropriate use of two specific supplements over a five year period.”
DSEA is scheduled to announce the second phase of the Health Impact Study next month that indicates a potential cost savings can be linked to the daily use of omega-3 fatty acids and lutein with zeaxanthin supplements which are shown to reduce the risk of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) and Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) respectively, in the senior population.
The Barometer Survey shows multivitamins are not only used most often but taken more regularly on a daily basis when compared with all other supplements. Categories of supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbal remedies or specialty products.
The poll also shows supplement users more likely to be affluent, married and higher educated. About one in five (21%) are Heavy Users, more likely to be male and using three more different types of dietary supplements. Forty-five percent of the population, who uses one to two different types of supplements, are mostly female and considered Light Users. Nineteen percent of the population uses a multi-vitamin only.
The need for greater education about supplements is apparent in the survey. Sixty-seven percent of those polled agree that conflicting stories in the media made them confused about the supplements they take and 63 percent of non dietary supplement users agreed when asked if they believe government should fund more research about dietary supplements. Seven out of 10 believe their doctor lacks the necessary knowledge about supplementation and would like better advice from their health care provider.
“There is an enormous opportunity to ensure the overall improved health of Americans positively impacts the health care system through real and substantive cost savings,” said Balbert. “Education and appropriate public policy are key to realizing what all Americans want – better health and lower health care costs.”
National Marketing Institute. Nutritional Supplement Barometer Study. October, 2005. Full research results: http://www.supplementinfo.org/anm/articlefiles/264-DSEA_Supplement_Barometer_Survey_Executive.pdf