Why Joe Issa Believes Nutraceutical Industry is good for People and Country

Ever since Stephen L. DeFelice coined the word nutraceutical in 1989, Jamaica has been made aware of the huge potential of the industry in creating jobs and engendering a culture of healthy lifestyles among the population, but 27 years later nothing has been done about it.

And as businessman and philanthropist Joe Issa bemoans the lack of development in the area of nutraceuticals in Jamaica, his endorsement of the products is defined by Greek Scientist Hypocrates who, before his death in 357BC, wrote: “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity…Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” 
 A staunch advocate of healthy lifestyles, having promoted it through sports among school children and community youth and parents, Issa says the use of nutraceutical products is an essential part of maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Issa’s concern for the lack of a culture of healthy lifestyles in Jamaica is not without good reason as, in 2011, with 53 per cent of Jamaican females 15 years and over being overweight, the country was ranked 14 among the highest. Also, since 1994, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have been on the rise but more so among females than males.

Joseph Issa

Acknowledging that NCDs negatively impact the economy, health systems, and households and individuals by reducing productivity and competitiveness, creating fiscal pressures, health outcomes and poverty, inequity, and opportunity loss, Issa states that the production of nutraceuticals will have a double positive effect on the country’s workforce and by extension the economy.

“Not only has the failure to develop the industry not added to Jamaica’s already slim workforce, the non-realization of the healthy lifestyle culture envisaged has seen thousands of persons leave their jobs and enter hospital to treat chronic non-communicable illnesses arising from unhealthy lifestyles,” says the founder and executive chairman of Cool Group of companies, adding that this has put a huge burden on taxpayers to pay for their healthcare.

Nutraceuticals are described as “products derived from food sources that are purported to provide extra health benefits, in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods,” and that “depending on the jurisdiction, products may claim to prevent chronic diseases, improve health, delay the aging process, increase life expectancy, or support the structure or function of the body,” according to Wikipedia.

It also described functional foods as those “designed to allow consumers to eat enriched foods close to their natural state, rather than by taking dietary supplements manufactured in liquid or capsule form.”

Adding that through nutrification functional foods have been either enriched or fortified, it informs that “this practice restores the nutrient content in a food back to similar levels from before the food was processed,” and that “sometimes, additional complementary nutrients are added, such as vitamin D to milk.”

In the context of the US being Jamaica’s largest trading partner it is noteworthy that according to Wikipedia, while dietary supplements need not be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before marketing, companies must register their manufacturing facilities with them.

It said further, “With a few well-defined exceptions, dietary supplements may only be marketed to support the structure or function of the body, and may not claim to treat a disease or condition,” adding that they must include a label stating that the US Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated the statements, and the products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”