Study About Dietary Supplements Shows Bias And Misunderstanding
A recently published article in the American Medical Association's (AMA) Archives of Internal Medicine finds that Americans are of mixed opinion when it comes to dietary supplement regulation.
"However, numerous statements and conclusions throughout the article suggest the Archives authors are deficient in their understanding of supplement regulatory statutes," stated a release from SupplementQuality.com, the website of the Dietary Supplement Quality Initiative, Inc., (DSQI). DSQI, Inc. is a consumer advocacy group.
"Thus, we propose the article should not be relied upon for accurate reporting," stated the DSQI release.
In essence, the surveys removed vitamins and minerals from the term supplement, thereby transforming at least 30% of respondents from the category of user to nonuser, and changing the meaning of answers to the survey's questions about supplements, suggested DSQI. In addition, DSQI felt that many of the questions would have been answered differently by survey respondents if vitamins and minerals had been included in the term supplement. The Archives article also stated that supplements are both untested and unregulated, which is not true, according to DSQI.
Equally troubling to the group was the appearance of such misunderstandings and bias in a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Medical Association (AMA).
"To have an informed, reasoned debate about how supplements are best regulated, all parties to the discussion need to understand the nature of current regulations," DSQI stated. "Throughout the article, the authors' understanding of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations was limited at best. Physicians are ill served by inaccurate reporting."
In addition to pointing out the underlying bias in the surveys, the DSQI critique entitled "Supplement Study In AMA Journal Shows Bias And Misunderstanding" suggests ways that future surveys may be improved. The piece also presents the downside to stricter, premarket regulation of supplements, highlights the advantages of the postmarket regulatory approach, and shows how self-regulation can benefit all concerned: the industry, consumers, and physicians.
This article was prepared by Health & Medicine Week editors from staff and other reports.
AACR Abstract #R5689, 2003
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