Older Americans Not Receiving Adequate Nutrition
Posted Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The findings of a new study published in the March edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association that middle-aged and older U.S. populations are not receiving adequate daily nutrition corroborates an earlier study performed by The Lewin Group for a subsidiary of the Natural Products Foundation (NPF). Both studies found that, with age, adults have a tendency to reduce how much they eat. As a result, the basic needs for essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin C are not being met for many Americans, especially senior citizens.

This lack of sufficient levels of nutrients may lead to health complications. By the year 2030, more than 70 million Americans will be between 65 and 75 years old, and the estimated health care costs for those over 65 will reach $16 trillion.

The NPF study indicates that aging populations could be spared hospitalizations, loss of independence, and major medical problems by corrections in dietary intake. One phase of the study found that simply availing seniors of the proper levels of calcium with vitamin D through supplementation could save several hundred thousand hospitalizations every year, as well as billions of dollars annually, and this is just a single example.

"It is clear that the current nutritional well-being in this country is less than optimal," said Tracy Taylor, Executive Director of the Natural Products Foundation. "By addressing these deficiencies in nutrition, we can save ourselves a lot expense in the coming years as our senior population expands."

According to another NPF-sponsored study, the appropriate use of select dietary supplements would improve the health of key populations and save the nation more than $24 billion in health care costs over the next five years.

"The transition to greater dependency of our seniors, whether in terms of home and community care or transition to a nursing facility, places considerable financial burden on seniors, their families and the health care system," the study's authors conclude. "Daily supplementation [...] can decrease the risk of disease advancement in seniors and allow them to live longer healthier more independent lives. ...[S]upplements are an inexpensive and safe way to improve health status and reduce health care and other expenditures. In these cases, the role of public policy to support their use is unambiguous."

The Health Impact Study mentioned above is "An Evidence-Based Study of the Role of Dietary Supplements in Helping Seniors Maintain their Independence " by Joan E. DaVanzo, Ph.D., MSW, Allen Dobson, Ph.D., Myra Tannamor, M.Ph., Jeannine Dollard, M.P.A. This multiphasic study was conducted by the Lewin Group and Dobson/DaVanzo, and prepared for the Natural Products Foundation. The latest phase of the study can be seen in its entirety here: Effect of Selected Dietary Supplements on Health Care Reduction Study Update


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