The survey, carried out in Italy, Germany, France, the UK and Spain by the market research company Synovate on behalf of Kemin Health, seemed to highlight record growth in lutein awareness in the anglo-saxon world of Germany and the UK. Consumers in all countries surveyed appeared to have gleaned a significant knowledge of lutein and its association to healthy eyes.
Interviews with around 1000 people between 18 and 65 in each country revealed that in the UK total consumer lutein awareness had jumped from 13.4 per cent in 2003 to 25.8 per cent in 2005, with those over 55 being the most informed (31.3 per cent).
Similar awareness levels were recorded in Germany where total consumer awareness of lutein reached 24.7 per cent and amongst the population over 55 years of age increased to 29 per cent.
However, in France, Spain and Italy marketers perhaps need to pick up the pace as awareness levels were much lower at 7.8 per cent, 5.4 per cent and 9.6 per cent respectively.
The southern Europeans, nevertheless, were high on the list in believing that general good nutrition can benefit eye health, with 72 per cent and 75 per cent of Italians and Spanish consumers responding positively, followed by British, French and German consumers with 64 per cent, 59 per cent and 48 per cent respectively.
Moreover, respondents in the UK, Germany and Italy were fairly willing to take supplements specifically for eye health.
Kemin Health believes its PR campaigns have helped increase awareness of lutein, particularly by encouraging manufacturers to bring out products containing FloraGLO, its branded lutein.
Lutein is an antioxidant nutrient belonging to the family of carotenoids, which are found in fruits and green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.
It is a primary component of the macular pigment that functions as a sort of filter that prevents harmful blue light from damaging sensitive tissues of the retina in the retina of the eye.
Studies have suggested that lutein may have a protective antioxidant effect reducing oxidative damage to cells.