40% Brits want calcium and vitamin D enriched products

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

One in three British consumers was concerned about osteoporosis, according to Canadean data
One in three British consumers was concerned about osteoporosis, according to Canadean data

Related tags Bone health Vitamin d Milk Nutrition Osteoporosis functional beverage beverage

There is substantial interest in calcium- and vitamin D- enriched products for improved bone health in the UK. But young people still don’t see the importance, says Canadean.

According to a survey conducted by the market research firm, one in three British consumers was concerned about osteoporosis and 41% (2/5) wanted to improve their bone health over the next 12 months.

However, this desire was largely seen within the over 55s - with 45% of this age group expressing this interest compared to 38% of consumers aged 35-44. 

About 217.3bn tonnes of dairy and soy products were sold globally in 2014 – a figure expected to rise to 262.7bn in 2019. Canadean said this meant enriched dairy products could be a good option for both businesses and consumers.

The bare bones of it 

Canadean said this interest was due to a growing awareness of osteoporosis, a condition whereby weakened bones meant greater fragility and risk of breaks.

This was part of the ageing process, but lifestyle choices like exercise and healthy eating including foods rich calcium and vitamin D had an impact.

Women are effected more often by the condition than men, particularly after menopause, and this was reflected by Canadean’s results showing only 25% of men were concerned about osteoporosis, compared with 39% of women across all ages.

Health claim check up

In 2009, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approved a health claim stating: “Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal bones.”

For calcium EFSA approved an article 13 claim stating: “Calcium is needed for the maintenance of normal bones.”

According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) over 300,000 people receive hospital treatment for fragility fractures as a result of osteoporosis every year. While the UK’s National Osteoporosis Society estimated three million Brits suffer from osteoporosis, amounting to one in two women and one in five men aged 50 and over.

Canadean's data came as part of its study of global attitudes and behaviour across 48 countries. Michael Hughes, lead analyst at Canadean, told us it had revealed varying attitudes to bone health across Europe. "Looking at neighboring countries for instance, only 34% of consumers in France are looking to improve their bone health over the next 12 months, compared to 49% in Germany."

Raising awareness

Dr Manfred Eggersdorfer, senior vice president of nutrition science and advocacy at DSM Nutritional Products as well as professor for healthy ageing for University of Groningen, told us the data highlighted the importance of more and better communication on the role of vitamin D and calcium “over the full life cycle”​.

“We have to make sure that younger consumers (but also mothers for their children) care about the best build-up of the bone in younger age to reach a strong bone mass (which can be achieved until the age of approximately 25 years) and then care to keep the bone mass density at good level including the muscle strength.” 

Canadean said other lifestyle factors – like sunlight and exercise – should be addressed by brands fortifying products. It gave the example of Fonterra’s adult milk brand Anlene, which offered consumers in Malaysian supermarkets a free bone health check.  

Hughes said such campaigns should put the "hard-hitting facts"​ at the forefront, raising awareness about a genuine health issue as opposed to raising awareness of a brand. 

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