Phytosterols could save Europe €26 billion in heart disease healthcare costs

By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

Phytosterols could save Europe €26 billion in heart disease healthcare costs
Daily consumption of 1.7g of phytosterols by the millions of adults aged 55 and over in the EU with severe hypercholesterolemia could provide healthcare savings of €5.3 billion per year and prevent more than 170,000 hospitalisations.

A new Frost & Sullivan report, commissioned by Food Supplements Europe, has calculated that supplementation of those ‘at risk’ of heart conditions because of severe hypercholesterolemia could save EU healthcare providers €26 billion in costs over four year, and provide an average return of €4.37 in savings for every €1 spent on supplements or fortification.

Speaking to NutraIngredients at the recent Vitafoods show, Patrick Coppens director of regulatory and scientific affairs at Food Supplements Europe noted that the extent of the benefits varies between different EU Member States because of differences in healthcare structures, different risks of hypercholesterolemia and the different costs involved with a cardiovascular event.

“But in every single member state, the balance is positive,” ​said Coppens. “The cost-effectiveness is very high.”

Indeed, the report shows that while Germany would benefit the most in terms of healthcare savings, there is a net benefit to be made by every country analysed.

Overall, the five largest EU countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK) can expect potential cost savings in excess of €160 million per year, said the report. 

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The overall economic economic burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) linked to hypercholesterolemia in the population studied was calculated to be €1.328 trillion between 2016 and 2020 - or €266 billion per year. 

The report showed that the total avoidable healthcare savings from supplementation within the EU would stand at €5.3 billion per year, however when the cost of supplementation programs was added in (a total annual cost of €1.2 billion for Europe) then a net benefit of €4.1 billion was seen. This is equivalent to a €4.37 return from healthcare savings for every €1 spent on supplementation, said Coppens.

"In every single Member State there is a net benefit cost-saving. Even if you take into account the cost of supplementation with phytosterols then still the effect is positive,"​ he told us.

Healthcare savings

The new report is the third in the space of a year to highlight the huge potential that exists for generating healthcare cost savings from supplementation programs. A report last year suggested that supplementation with omega-3 could save €12.9 billion per year​ in healthcare spending by slashing heart disease, while a report in February 2016 claimed almost €4 billion per year could be saved​ in healthcare costs through increased supplementation of calcium and vitamin D resulting in 200,000 fewer fractures per year​.

“A very clear picture is emerging of the significant economic and wellbeing benefits that could be achieved by encouraging more widespread food supplementation among those sections of the EU population at greatest risk,"​ said Food Supplements Europe Chair Ingrid Atteryd.

“It’s a clear indication that food supplementation can make a highly positive contribution in the EU both financially and in terms of quality of life.”

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