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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Isn’t it Time to Address the Social and Economic Costs of Malnutrition?

By Michael McBurney

People need nourishment to survive. Without adequate nourishment, children die before they reach 5 years of age and adults fail to live as long. These are the immeasurable social costs of poor nutrition. There are also measurable economic costs.

A new economic report “Smart Prevention – Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements” issued by the Council for Responsible Nutrition Foundation, in consultation with the economics firm Frost & Sullivan, examines the health care cost savings nations could achieve by reducing medical events associated with nutrition-related non-communicable diseases. The economic report demonstrates that addressing nutrition gaps can lead to positive health care savings.

The nutrient-disease outcomes examined by CRN are: omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and coronary heart disease; phytosterols, psyllium fiber and LDL-cholesterol; chromium picolinate and diabetes-attributed coronary heart disease;  lutein and zeaxanthin and age-related eye disease; and calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and osteoporosis.

The timing is perfect with the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City this week. As noted in the draft “State of the SUN Movement Progress Report” released by Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN), 41 countries and the Indian state of Maharashtra , homes of 81 million children, are now participating in the SUN movement. The draft report emphasizes the extraordinary benefits that accrue because of high-impact nutrition interventions.

This morning, I attended the Business Platform for Nutrition Research launch organized by GAIN. This extraordinary public-private partnership is a commitment to tackle the underlying causes and solutions of global malnutrition. It is a platform to encourage knowledge sharing among partners because, said by Jay Naidoo, Chairman of GAIN (@Jay_Naidoo), “we know malnutrition is the leading cause of deaths in children” as he called on the audience to move beyond planning to action. DSM CEO, Feike Sijbesma reiterated his call for public-private partnerships to give children a future.

Hopefully, this CRN report and the UNGA meetings will energize national leaders and policy makers to address malnutrition, wherever and whenever it occurs.

Main Citations

Shanahan C, de Lorimer R. Smart Prevention-Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements: An economic case for promoting increased intake of key dietary supplements as a means to combat unsustainable health care cost growth in the United States.

Scaling Up Nutrition. Draft State of the Sun Movement Progress Report (September 2013).