Friday, March 30, 2007

The Gap in Life Expectancy

"There is a big gap between 'total life expectancy' and 'healthy life expectancy'," Professor David Richardson, scientific adviser to the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN UK), is quoted saying in this recent article.

Professor Richardson points out in his new report that as people age their energy intake declines, making it much more difficult to ensure the micronutrient intake of diet as a whole. Such a deficit in micronutrient intake offers an opportunity for food supplements.
The report focuses on a wide range of health conditions and how the diet and micronutrients may offer protection, including cognitive function, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, cancer, cognitive function, gut health and immunity, and bone and joint health.

If more attention was placed on improving healthy ageing, the potential economic, health and social burdens could be reduced, said Richardson.
The report, titled "Nutrition, Healthy Ageing and Public Policy", will be available at the "International Perspectives on Dietary Supplement Regulation" workshop on April 17, at Yokohama in Japan, and organised by the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations’ (IADSA) to address the evolution of dietary supplement regulation.
The elderly currently make up 10 per cent of the global population – a figure that is expected to double by 2050, placing increasing demands on public health systems and medical and social services. In 2005 the World Health Assembly addressed the issue by adopting a resolution to strengthen and promote active and healthy ageing.

According to IADSA's healthy ageing report, evidence supports the premise that good nutrition, specific nutrients and other food substances can play a major role in maintaining and enhancing physical and mental performance.
Taking the example of omega-3 fatty acids, Prof. Richardson pointed out that it is "almost impossible" for the elderly population to achieve the recommended intakes from the diet, based on current consumption.
“Increases in healthcare expenditure will outpace economic growth in many countries, so health professionals and policymakers will need to give greater priority to maximising the quality of life of older people and to ensuring the most cost-efficient methods of nutritional support,” said Professor Richardson.

“Healthcare strategies, including the wider use of food supplements, could favourably modify the age-related decline in most organ functions and the development and progression of many chronic diseases.”
Meanwhile, here in the USA, physician and alternative medicine veteran Dr. Julian Whitaker, who runs the Whitaker Wellness Institute in Newport Beach, California, pitted mainstream medical practice and the pharmaceutical industry against the potential of the dietary supplement industry to act preventatively.

In this article, he said the medical establishment sets the definitions of disease so that more and more people fall within diseased ranks and need to be medicated.
"You create the conditions, you sell the conditions...," United Natural Products Alliance executive director Loren Israelsen said in his introductory comments. "Whoever defines these terms is likely to win the game."

So far, pharmaceutical companies and their political clout are winning the game, while the public and the dietary supplement industry lose, according to Whitaker.

...Whitaker cited that in 2004, the US spent $1.9mn on national health care expenditure and this figure is set to double over the course of the next decade. Despite this colossal investment, Americans rank 22nd out of 23 countries in terms of their health.

"In order to get people to take these drugs, they have to create fear," said Whitaker, pointing-out that pharmaceutical companies spend $4bn yearly on direct-to-consumer marketing in the US The only other developed country that permits such a practice is New Zealand.
Interestingly, the FDA is currently looking to increase regulations/guidelines on both "supplements" and "funtional foods." More on that in a future post here at BLV Health Watch.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Update on March 2007 USA Food Recalls

There are a few very large recalls underway in the USA that consumers should be aware of:

1. U.S. Chicken Breast Recall (link):
Carolina Culinary Foods, a West Columbia, S.C., firm, initially recalled 52,650 pounds of fully cooked chicken breast strips on Feb. 18 because of possible bacterial contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. The FSIS said the expansion of the recall of 6- and 12-ounce packages distributed to retail establishments nationwide was based on additional sampling initiated by Kraft Foods and conducted at a non-government laboratory.

The FSIS said the front of each recalled package bears the establishment number "P-19676" inside the U.S. Department of Agriculture mark of inspection. Each recalled package also has a "Use by" date of earlier than "28 MAY 2007."

The expanded recall totals approximately 2.8 million pounds.

2. Summer Sausage Recall (link) in some States:
Sixteen-ounce packages of "RESER'S FINE FOODS, Premium BEEF SUMMER SAUSAGE, Natural Smoke Flavoring Added" -- distributed to retail stores in Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington -- are being voluntarily recalled by the Hempler Foods Group of Ferndale, Wash., owing to the presence of the presence of milk protein (hydrolyzed sodium caseinate), a potential allergen.

Each label bears the establishment number "EST. 6410" inside the USDA seal of inspection. Each package also bears a "Sell by" date of "3/13/07," "3/18/07," "4/25/07," "5/16/07," "6/16/07" or "8/27/07."

3. Ground beef recall (link) in western U.S.:
Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. of Wallula, Wash., is recalling approximately 16,743 pounds of ground beef that may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service says the ground beef was distributed in Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Utah in 60-pound boxes, each containing six 10-pound chubs of "ROUND, COARSE GROUND BEEF, 85/15." The box end also bears a label with the establishment number "Est. 9268" as well as a "BEST BEFORE OR FROZEN BY" date of "03/08/07" and packaging date "02/16/07."