The healthcare debate is polarizing and complicated-more so than the economy or the war in Iraq, at least in my opinion. Thankfully Erik Goldman, our "Healthcare Practitioner Corner" columnist, lays out the issues with healthcare reform pretty eloquently in his column this month (page 32). True to his style, Erik does not mince words about the failings of our current healthcare system, and even the one it may become. He points out that the future of healthcare isn't about who gets covered by insurance, but what gets covered. It's also about "transforming" the healthcare system, not "reforming" it-why would we want to build upon a system where it is cheaper to be sick than remain healthy? From my standpoint, it's pretty simple: we need to transform how Americans, the government and insurance companies view health.
Thanks to a faltering economy, consumers have simplified their lives. As a result, they are eating more meals at home, spending more quality time with their families, and taking more responsibility for their own healthcare. In many instances, the latter has driven them toward the dietary supplement and functional food arenas where they continue to explore products to help keep them and their families out of the doctor's office, and thus out of reach of insurance companies.
As annoying as the healthcare discussion has become, it is an issue that needs swift resolution, especially when you consider the health of future generations. This is why our cover story on children's health (page 42) could not be more timely. A lot of children these days are, let's face it, fat, lazy and unhealthy. In fact, current reports indicate that the present generation of children could be the first that doesn't live longer than the one before it. And all the statistics are there to bear this out-incidences of obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol continue to soar.
The good news is parents are starting to get the message. Currently, moms are looking for natural, wholesome, uncomplicated foods to feed their children. And in today's economy, inherently healthy foods that can pack an extra punch in the form of functional ingredients like omega 3s will be the winners here. On the supplement front, any company that can focus its efforts on a specific condition or age group will be light years ahead of the game.
Editor's Note: This issue ushers in a new column authored by industry expert Liz Sloan. Using her proprietary TrendSense model, she will predict the market potential for various ingredients, products and markets. This month she focused on "Kids & Heart Health" (pages 16-17) in keeping with our cover story on children's health. Next month she'll be discussing emerging marine ingredients and their market potential, so stay tuned!