Survey shows women know about probiotics but aren't trying them

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Probiotics, Probiotic, Lactobacillus

While many women in the US have now heard about the benefits of
probiotics, only one in ten have used them to combat digestive
problems, according to a survey that underscores a need for more
communication about probiotics in general.

Probiotics are described as beneficial bacteria that populate the gut. When an imbalance occurs between probiotic and pathogenic bacteria, the result may be digestive problems such as diarrhoea, irregularity or constipation. The survey, commissioned by Amerifit Brands, marketer of a probiotic supplement called Culturelle, indicates that the category could benefit from enhanced marketing that persuades women to try probiotics, rather than just read about them. The online quantitative survey was conducted in March and involved 1,000 mothers in the United States aged between 21 and 40 years, all of whom reported experiencing digestive problems. Thirty-eight per cent said they were unsatisfied with current measures to combat their problems, such as prescriptive medicines, over-the-counter treatments or dietary changes. While almost one-third had heard of probiotics and said they understood they could help with common complains, only 10 percent said they had tried them. Moreover just eight percent said they had given them to their children. "Probiotics are under-utilized, despite moms' awareness and continued problems,"​ said Amerilife. While the company did not try to explain the reason behind the conclusion, in the past industry commentators have suggested that the notion of consuming bacteria is difficult for US consumers to accept since they have grown up with the impression that all bacteria are bad. The US market for probiotic products intended to bolster or replace probiotics in the gut has been forecast to reach $394m by 2010 by Frost & Sullivan Probiotics . Datamonitor recently said that probiotics are the biggest category in the $21.3bn US functional foods market. Key players include Activia, which, since launching its yogurt launch in January 2006, has surpassed the $100m mark in retail grocery sales in the US. Based on this success, the dairy giant recently launched three new probiotic-delivering products for the US market: Activia Light nonfat yogurt, DanActive dairy drink and Danimals with Lactobacillus GG (LGG). Datamonitor pinpointed certified health claims as a means of securing consumer trust in the science behind products. "Endorsement by perceived credible sources such as recognized health organizations will aid in curtailing consumer skepticism about information provided by food producers,"​ they said.

Related topics: Health and nutritional ingredients

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