Health and nutrition News

Supplement consumption 20% up since start of the pandemic – survey

Supplement consumption in the UK has risen 20% since the start of the pandemic new research from the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) has found. 

The HFMA’s latest survey – Health of the Nation 2021; Lockdown Focus – found that nearly 20 million people in the UK are now using supplements on a daily basis, an increase of nearly 20% since the last survey in 2019.

This research, which included over 10,000 adults in the UK, is one of the largest of its kind, covering a comprehensive gender, geographical and age representation.

Over 70% of adults are now taking a food supplement, with one in three claiming to have introduced a supplement as a result of the COVID pandemic. Of these new supplements taken, vitamin D was the most common dietary addition at 63%, followed by vitamin C (39%). There has also been a shift among the younger demographic, with 77% of 18-24 year-olds now consuming supplements.

The research also reveals the reasons why people are turning to supplements:

• 61% for ‘general health and wellbeing’

• 24% for vitamin deficiency

• 21% for joint health

• 20% to optimise health

• 20% to support their immune system

The HFMA research adds to a body of studies highlighting increased consumer interest in health and wellness during the pandemic. 42% of people surveyed said that their food supplement purchases were most influenced by personal research, and when they do seek out information, 88% of people stated that they find it easy to find and research the right information on supplements. Strikingly, 40% stated that information about immunity had influenced their choice of food supplements.

Esther Mills-Roberts, HFMA communications manager and a registered nutritionist says: “2020 was a spotlight year for supplementation and the Health of The Nation survey results reinforces that consumers are actively seeking out more information, especially about immune health. Lockdown has shone a light on the importance of adequate micronutrient intake with respected scientists, such as Professor Philip Calder, publishing more work on the value of supplements in supporting immune function. These are critical times for public health and nutrition, with both health strategists and scientists calling for further research on key nutrients.”

“2020 was a spotlight year for supplementation and the Health of The Nation survey results reinforces that consumers are actively seeking out more information, especially about immune health”

The HFMA’s executive director, Graham Keen, commented: “The findings from this latest survey confirm that our industry continues to play a vital role in helping our nation to be healthier. And our products have probably never been held in more esteem by consumers, and perhaps more understood by Government and Regulators, than they are right now.”

Other findings 

• More women taking food supplements than men: 51% (women), 44.5% (men)

• On a national basis, supplement use comparative numbers are:

Wales: 56% Scotland: 49% England: 47% N Ireland: 47%

• In England, London leads the way at 58%.

• Supplements were taken most in the following towns: Derry (38%), Durham (33%) and Hull (29%).

Main image: Health of the Nation 2021; Lockdown Focus, HFMA

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