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PLoS One. 2014 Mar 18;9(3):e92265. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0092265. eCollection 2014.

Usage of plant food supplements across six European countries: findings from the PlantLIBRA consumer survey.

Author information

1
Fundación para la Investigación Nutricional, Barcelona Science Park, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
2
Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom.
3
PhytoLab GmbH & Co KG, Vestenbergsgreuth, Germany.
4
Transilvania University of Brasov, Brasov, Romania.
5
Dipartimento di Scienze Farmacologiche e Biomolecolari, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italy.
6
Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, Helsinki, Finland.
7
Fundación para la Investigación Nutricional, Barcelona Science Park, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain; Ciber Obn Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y la Nutrición, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain.
8
Fundación para la Investigación Nutricional, Barcelona Science Park, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain; Ciber Obn Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y la Nutrición, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain; Institute of Biomedical and Health Research of Las Palmas, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The popularity of botanical products is on the rise in Europe, with consumers using them to complement their diets or to maintain health, and products are taken in many different forms (e.g. teas, juices, herbal medicinal products, plant food supplements (PFS)). However there is a scarcity of data on the usage of such products at European level.

OBJECTIVE:

To provide an overview of the characteristics and usage patterns of PFS consumers in six European countries.

DESIGN:

Data on PFS usage were collected in a cross-sectional, retrospective survey of PFS consumers using a bespoke frequency of PFS usage questionnaire.

SUBJECTS/SETTING:

A total sample of 2359 adult PFS consumers from Finland, Germany, Italy, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom.

DATA ANALYSES:

Descriptive analyses were conducted, with all data stratified by gender, age, and country. Absolute frequencies, percentages and 95% confidence intervals are reported.

RESULTS:

Overall, an estimated 18.8% of screened survey respondents used at least one PFS. Characteristics of PFS consumers included being older, well-educated, never having smoked and self-reporting health status as "good or very good". Across countries, 491 different botanicals were identified in the PFS products used, with Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgo), Oenothera biennis (Evening primrose) and Cynara scolymus (Artichoke) being most frequently reported; the most popular dose forms were capsules and pills/tablets. Most consumers used one product and half of all users took single-botanical products. Some results varied across countries.

CONCLUSIONS:

The PlantLIBRA consumer survey is unique in reporting on usage patterns of PFS consumers in six European countries. The survey highlights the complexity of measuring the intake of such products, particularly at pan-European level. Incorporating measures of the intake of botanicals in national dietary surveys would provide much-needed data for comprehensive risk and benefit assessments at the European level.

PMID:
24642692
PMCID:
PMC3958487
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0092265
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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