Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus Update

WASHINGTON—The Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus, in cooperation with the two the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and the Natural Products Association (NPA), hosted the third of a series of lunch briefings since the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus was founded. The briefings were aimed at educating Congressional staffers on important issues related to the dietary supplement industry.

William Cooper, M.D., medical director of cardiovascular surgery, Wellstar-Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Ga., and assistant professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine, spoke to more than 90 attendees about the importance of using dietary supplements as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Dr. Cooper also offered advice for how supplements can play an important role in prevention and healthcare reform.

“When you get to me, you really don’t want to buy what I’m selling,” said Dr. Cooper, referring to his heart surgery specialty. He encouraged the individuals in the audience to focus on preventative health, rather than the current sick-care health system that is in place. “As a nation, we are consistently inconsistent. But there are simple things that all of us can do every day to better our health—and that includes taking dietary supplements.”

Dr. Cooper said that he personally takes fiber, fish oil supplements and a multivitamin every day. He also recommends these supplements to his patients for good heart health. Personally and professionally, he believes these supplements, along with healthy nutrition and regular exercise, can make a big difference in overall health and wellness.

Dr. Cooper isn’t alone in his beliefs. According to the “Life…supplemented” Healthcare Professionals (HCP) Impact Study, 73 percent of cardiologists believe this regimen—healthy diet + vitamins and other supplements + exercise—is essential for a healthy heart. The study also showed 72 percent of the nation’s cardiologists recommend dietary supplements to their patients, and more than half (57 percent) take supplements themselves.

“Health care reform will happen in this country when you and I change our habits to be healthier,” said Dr. Cooper.

Co-chairs of the Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) agreed with Dr. Cooper that dietary supplements have many health benefits.

“Prevention is the most cost-effective initiative to contain costs in health care and dietary supplements are an important part of prevention,” said Rep. Polis.

Rep. Chaffetz echoed his co-chair’s comments, “I know these products provide so much benefit for consumers. I’m a product of it.”

Co-chair, Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) was also in attendance. This event was the first of three briefings taking place this year and the briefings will continue to take place quarterly in subsequent years. Each briefing will focus on topics relevant to the dietary supplement industry and wellness arena and will feature speakers who will address the latest science and offer practical information. These briefings will also serve to position the Dietary Supplement Caucus as the experts when it comes to educating Congress on dietary supplement legislation and regulation.

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