Russia warned on poor diet, lifestyle

By Dominique Patton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Russia

Russia could provide supplement and health food makers with
attractive opportunities, particularly in the light of a recent
warning from the World Bank.

A report from the institution said yesterday that Russians should cut alcohol intake and smoking and improve their diet if they are to reverse the drastically declining population and keep up economic growth.

Russia's population has dropped by about 6 million to 143 million since 1993 and is currently losing around 750,000 people a year. The decline is thought to be a result of both a drop in the birth rate and high rates of early death among men, often caused by excessive drinking.

But Russia also has a high mortality rate from chronic disease like cancer and heart disease - three times that of Germany.

Research on the supplements market suggests however that some Russians are aware of their poor diet, which is often lacking in vitamins and minerals during winter months due to the shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables.

This has created strong seasonal demand for supplements, running parallel with the flu season. Over 2003, vitamins increased by 17.5 per cent in value compared with the previous year, according to Euromonitor, with growth boosted by doctors' recommendations.

Vitamin C alone, a product with stable growth in western Europe, increased 18 per cent during that year to $60 million, partly as a result of two long flu seasons.

Fortified and functional foods are also growing, albeit from a low base, by around 20 per cent each year. In 2004, this category was worth $75.2 million, according to the market analysts.

Reduced fat food is a much bigger category at $1026.5 million in 2004, having grown by 17 per cent since 2002. Other segments like high fibre foods are smaller and could benefit from higher consumer awareness.

Speaking at a conference to launch the World Bank report, Marc Suhrcke from the World Health Organisation said that bringing mortality rates down to European levels could boost national wealth by up to 29 per cent over the next two decades.

"We need to invest in health. I mean not only treating people who are sick but in preventive development,"​ he said.

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