F&S: Supplements Could Offer Huge Health Care Savings

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WASHINGTON, D.C.— Supplementation at preventive intake levels in high-risk populations can reduce cost savings on a number of disease-associated medical event, according to a new Frost & Sullivan economic report.

The report ,"Smart Prevention—Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements," was granted by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) Foundation. The research focused on four different chronic diseases and the potential for health care cost savings when U.S. adults, 55 and older, were diagnosed with these chronic diseases and used one of eight different dietary supplement regimens.

"Chronic disease takes a huge toll on people's quality of life, and the health care system spends a tremendous amount of money treating chronic disease, but has failed to focus on ways to reduce those costs through prevention," said Steve Mister, president, CRN Foundation. "We already knew that the dietary supplements identified in the report can play a role in reducing the risk of certain chronic diseases and we felt compelled to find out if they could also contribute to health care cost savings by reducing the medical events associated with those conditions.

"This new report says emphatically that they do," Mister said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S., 75 percent of health care dollars go to the treatment of chronic disease, with only three percent spent on prevention. The expected cost for inpatient procedures and emergency room visits, that are related to coronary heart disease, are expected to cost $77.92 billion per year.

According to the Frost & Sullivan report, if men and women (55 years and older) with elevated cholesterol levels took psyllium dietary fiber at preventive intake levels on a daily basis, the cost savings for coronary heart disease could be almost $2.5 billion a year, equating  just under $19.9 billion in cumulative net savings between 2013 and 2020. The report also stresses that if women above age 55 with osteoporosis took calcium and vitamin D at preventive intake levels on a daily basis, society could save $1.5 billion a year.

The report also discussed the role of supplementation in eye health. In the aging American population, 2.8 percent develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and 33 develop cataracts. Frost & Sullivan's findings revealed lutein and zeaxanthin supplement use could save $7.4 billion  in health care costs between now and 2020.

"Over the next 15 years, age-related eye diseases are expected to triple due to an aging population and longer life expectancies," said Heather Richardson, Kemin product manager.. “The Frost & Sullivan study accurately points out that lutein and zeaxanthin supplements are a small investment when it comes to increasing your quality of life, maintaining your independence and reducing potential costly health events."

The report identified potential savings through a systematic review of hundreds of scientific studies on eight dietary supplement regimens across four diseases to determine the reduction in disease risk from these preventive practices. The report also researched the projected rates of medical events across high-risk populations and applied cost benefit analyses to determine the cost savings if high-risk people took supplements at preventive intake levels.

"As an economist in the face of escalating health care costs," said Chris Shanahan, global program manager, Frost & Sullivan. "Its rewarding to reveal good news for health care practitioners, public policy officials, insurance companies and patients that select supplement interventions can reduce the changes of experiencing a costly medical event that helps control rising health care costs."

"This report provides details  for doctors and other medical professionals to talk with their patients about supplement usage. For consumers, it’s a wake-up call to talk to medial professionals about which dietary supplements and what intake levels are right for their individual lifestyle," Mister said, encouraging insurers and employers to consider dietary supplement regimens as part of workplace wellness programs or employee benefits.

“Chronic diseases negatively impact our lives far beyond the direct medical costs and if there are things we can do to help lessen medical events and associated costs of those diseases, we should be doing them."

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