This article reports that two professors from the College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University, Karen Russo France, Ph.D. and Paula Fitzgerald Bone, Ph.D., recently presented findings of a study they conducted on nutritional and dietary supplement labeling to the FDA. While I have not been able to locate the text of the study yet, for a pdf of the powerpoint they gave on their study click here.
Entitled “Policy Makers’ Paradigms and Evidence from Consumer Interpretations of Dietary Supplement Labels,” the presentation describes several areas covered by the study including consumer beliefs and perceptions regarding structure-function claims versus disease claims, the impact (or lack thereof) of the DSHEA disclaimer on consumer beliefs, and the use of short and long scientific evidence disclaimers. Both the news article and presentation linked here suggest that whether or not a consumer has a preexisting bias either in favor of or against supplements has more impact on supplement label effectiveness than the contents of the labels themselves.
I am trying to obtain a copy of the study to link to so we can see the full story. If these conclusions are as solid as they appear to be FDA’s focus on labeling may need to be rethought. After all, if the labels don’t work, why perpetuate the problem by enforcing existing rules on labeling? Something to think about.
Update: For additional links to resources provided by Prof. Bone, click here.