A growing number of consumers are turning to health supplements as an alternative or addition to mainstream medicine. Today’s consumers are savvy and understand the benefits of the ingredients found in health supplements for good health and well-being. While they are apprehensive of nutritional products, they value brands that offer manufacturing credibility and prefer products formulated under doctor supervision.As more consumers place priority on their health, health supplements are fast becoming a popular choice.This focus is reflected in the booming growth of the U.S. dietary supplement market, presently estimated to be valued at $24-25 billion. In spite of prevailing doubts about the integrity of health supplement manufacturers, the rising cost of raw materials and new regulations, the health supplement industry is projected to rise by 4-6% in the next year. By the year 2010 growth in the global nutraceuticals industry is projected to reach $187 billion.According to NMI’s 2007 Health & Wellness Trends Survey, the top health categories for supplements are weight loss, cardiovascular support, digestion, arthritis or joint pain relief, seasonal allergy relief, vision and eye health, and diabetes.”Customers believe in the industry. A recent study found that 34% of consumers looking to lose weight first turn to a dietary supplement as their adjunct in the battle against obesity,” says Douglas S. Kalman, director of nutrition and applied clinical research at Miami Research Associates and chair of the Nutrition in Complementary Care Dietetic Practice Group (NCC-DPG).According to an annual survey conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), Washington, D.C. “Consumers’ use of dietary supplements remained fairly consistent in 2007, with 68% of American adults saying that they take dietary supplements.”Consider these statistics by the Office of Dietary Supplements:* 31.8% of American children use dietary supplements (18 and younger).* 47% of American men use dietary supplements.* 57% of American women use dietary supplements.The most commonly used dietary supplements are multivitamins and minerals (18.3%). A recent study conducted by the NCAAM, shows a list of why people use dietary supplements, the most common reasons are general health, arthritis, memory improvement, to prevent osteoporosis, for energy, recommended by physician, friend, family or through media, for immune health, to prevent colds/influenza, and as sleep aids.Health supplements most commonly purchased are:* 40% vitamins* 29% herbals & botanicals (ginkgo, echinacea, St. John’s Wort, ginseng, garlic)* 10% sports nutrition* 8% minerals* 8% specialty supplements (melatonin, fish oil, amino acids, etc.)(www.snac.ucla.edu)The top supplements used by consumers in 2007, in order of frequency are multivitamins, calcium, vitamin C, fish oil, vitamin E, antioxidants, vitamin B/B complex and omega 3s. (NMI survey).Why are Health Supplements Gaining Credibility?There are more than 20,000 products on the market. Many consumers believe that health supplements can support their bodies to fight disease or improve health. Exactly why are health supplements gaining credibility?One of the reasons is the advances in science and technology. Most credible health supplement manufacturers use strict manufacturing policies combined with a professional team of researchers who develop products based on evidence based scientific research.Through clinical studies and systematic reviews scientist evaluate the health benefits and safety risks of health supplements. This has built consumer confidence.An example of this is omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. There is strong evidence from epidemiologic and clinical trials indicating the consumption of omega-3 fatty acid as being beneficial to people who are at risk of coronary heart disease. The American Heart Association validates this: “Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of – or who have – cardiovascular disease”Consumer interest in health supplements is now reinforced by doctors and healthcare professionals.A report from CRN’s Healthcare Professionals Impact Study states that “more than three-quarters of U.S. physicians (79%) and nurses (82%) recommend dietary supplements to their patients.” As dietary supplements receive more support from clinical trials, there will be a rise in the number of recommendations of health supplements by healthcare professionals to their patients.Another factor which will boost future sales is the recent finalization of U.S. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) rules and requirements for the manufacture of dietary supplements and the new Adverse Event Reporting (AER) law. “The burden of compliance is really key for consumer confidence,” says Daniel Fabricant, vice president of scientific affairs, Natural Products Association (NPA), Washington, D.C. Health supplements are the future in preventive medicine. With DNA diagnostics becoming more common, and the role of nutrition against disease gaining surer footing, the health supplement industry is poised to meet the challenges of the future health industry.
While sitting back in her blue jeans and wearing a heavy workout sweater at the Legacy Emanuel Hospital’s Emergency room, Angela Jones has her feet prompted up and crossed atop of a small table. When asked about health care issues and how they affect her, Angela explains that there is a portion of people who suffer from not having health care insurance. She makes it clear that some of those who suffer most are young people. Jones, who is a college student, declared her passion for the young because it falls under her own age group.Says Jones, “The Oregon Health Plan should be open to more people who are under 21 years old. Private insurance shouldn’t be so expensive for young people.”According to national surveys, the primary reason people are uninsured is the high cost of health insurance coverage. Notwithstanding, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of the uninsured reported changing their way of life significantly in order to pay medical bills. Economists have discovered that increasing health care costs correlate to drops in health insurance coverage.Jones believes that some of the greatest challenges that people face across this nation is obtaining affordable health care. “I would open an Oregon Health Plan to a variety of people who don’t have insurance. It is hard to get health insurance.”Terri Heer, a registered nurse at a local hospital, claims that in order to improve America’s health care system a key ingredient is to “make sure that everyone (has) access.”This would include cutting out on expenses that are not palpable to so called “health care needs”. Heer says, “First, we spend a lot of money servicing people for illnesses that can be prevented. Some of the money spent can go to other things.”Over the long haul, should the nations health care system undergo significant changes, the typical patient may not necessarily see the improvements firsthand. “I would love to say there will be a lot of changes. I am not a pessimist, but I don’t think there will be any change,” says Heer. Heer does allude to the fact that if more money were spent for people in the health care arena, she says that there is a possibility that the necessary changes would be more evident.Whether health care is affordable or not is an issue that affects everyone. According to a recent study last year, health care spending in the United States reached $2.3 trillion, and is projected to reach $3 trillion by 2011. By 2016, it is projected to reach $4.2 trillion. Although it is estimated that nearly 47 million Americans are uninsured, the U.S. spends more on health care than any other nation.The rising tide of health care stems from several factors that has an affect on us all. First, there is an intensity of services in the U.S. health care system that has undergone a dramatic change when you consider that people are living longer coupled with greater chronic illnesses.Secondly, prescription drugs and technology have gone through significant changes. The fact that major drugs and technological advancement has been a contributing factor for the increase in health care spending. Some analysts suggest that the improvement of state-of-art technologies and drugs increase health care spending. This increase not only attributes to the high-tech inventions, but also because consumer demand for these products has gone through the roof, so to speak.Thirdly, there is an aging of the population. Since the baby boomers have reached their middle years, there is a tremendous need to take care of them. This trend will continue as baby boomers will qualify for more Medicare in 2011.Lastly, there is the factor of administrative costs. Some would argue that the private sector plays a critical role in the rise of health care costs and the economic increase they produce in overhead costs. At the same time, 7 percent of health care expenses are a result of administrative costs. This would include aspects of billing and marketing.Terra Lincoln is a woman who was found waiting in the Emergency room at the Providence Portland Medical Center. When asked about the rising costs of health care, she said, “If you don’t have medical coverage, it’ll cost you too much money. If I leave the hospital right now and I need to buy two (types) of medicines, I couldn’t afford it.” Lincoln says that she is a member of the OHP, but she believes that there are still issues that need to be addressed.Terra recognizes that to reduce medical costs, she would have to start by getting regular checkups. “Sometimes people of color wait till they’re in pain before they get a checkup,” she said.A national survey shows that the primary reason why people cannot afford health care is because of soaring costs of health care coverage. In a recent Wall-Street Journal-NBC survey it is reported that 50% of the American public claims that their highest and most significant economic concern is health care. Consequently, the rising cost of health care is the number one concern for Democratic voters.Regarding the rising tide of health care, Kristin Venderbush, a native Wisconsin, and another patient in emergency at Providence says, “I worry a lot about what happens to the working poor. They don’t have OHP. If you can’t advocate for yourself, you will not get the health care you need…on every level.”Harvard University researchers conducted a recent study that discovered that the out-of-pocket medical debt for an average consumer who filed bankruptcy was $12,000. This study noted that 68 percent of those who had filed for bankruptcy carried health insurance. Apparently, these bankruptcy’s were results from medical expenses. It was also noted in this study that every 30 seconds someone files for bankruptcy after they have had some type of serious health problem.In spite of all the social and economic bureaucracy in the health care arena, some changes were made in Washington on January 28, 2008. In his State of the Union address, President Bush made inquired Congress to eliminate the unfair bias of the tax code against people who do not get their health care from their employer. Millions would then have more options that were not previously available and health care would be more accessible for people who could not afford it.Consequently, the President believes that the Federal government can make health care more affordable and available for those who need it most. Some sources suggest that the President not only wants health care to be available for people, but also for patients and their private physicians so that they will be free to make choices as well. One of the main purposes for the health care agenda is to insure that consumers will not only have the freedom to make choices, but to also enable those to make decisions that will best meet their health care needs.Kerry Weems, Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, oversees the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as SCHIP. This is a critical program because it pays for the health care of more than six and a half million children who come from homes that cannot afford adequate health insurance. These homes exceed the pay scale for Medicaid programs, therefore are not able to participate.During SCHIP’s ten year span, states have used the program to assist families with low-income and uninsured children for their sense of well-being in the health care arena. The Bush Administration believes that states should do more of an effort to provide for the neediest children and enable them to get insurance immediately. The SCHIP was originally intended to cover children who had family incomes ranging from $20,650. This amount would typically include a family of four. According to sources, all states throughout the U.S. have SCHIP programs in place and just over six million children are served.Children and Health CareWashington’s PerspectiveWhat is driving health care costs?The fact that the U.S. faces ever increasing health care woes, has left many to believe that the country’s current crisis is on a lock-step path toward insolvability.