Lutein awareness is varied but rising across Europe, with Italy and France showing the greatest increase in knowledge, according to a Frost & Sullivan survey sponsored by Kemin Health Europe.
Germany had the highest proportion of consumers who had heard of lutein, at 33.3 per cent. In Italy and France, lutein awareness more than doubled since Kemin's 2005 survey, with 25.8 per cent of Italians and 16 per cent of French respondents being lutein-aware. The UK saw a decrease from 25.8 per cent to 20 per cent, while Portugal's awareness of the carotenoid was measured at 19.2 per cent. Spain registered only 9.8 per cent awareness in the survey.
Perhaps surprisingly, the 500 18-65 year-olds polled in each of the six countries registered relatively low awareness of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the eye condition for which lutein has been proven clinically beneficial, despite blindness being a primary health concern.
The UK had the highest AMD awareness at 41 per cent, followed by 33 per cent in France, 27 per cent in Italy, 24 per cent of Germans, and 21 per cent in Portugal.
AMD sufferers, who are usually over 50, are often left with only peripheral vision. AMD is the greatest cause of partial sight loss among over-50s in the Western world. This age group had the highest AMD awareness in the survey, with women being more aware than men (and also more likely to develop AMD).
More than 60 per cent of respondents in Spain, Germany and Italy were willing to take supplements to benefit their eye health with 49 per cent in France, Portugal and the UK willing to do so.
Kemin Health Europe said its mainstream marketing, co-branding efforts, health professional advocacy and initiatives such as the Lutein Information Bureau were major factors in lutein's increased public penetration.