Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Lactose intolerance on the rise among Australian women

Between 2011 and 2015, the proportion of Australian adults reporting they are lactose intolerant has risen from 2.8 per cent to four per cent. This growth is almost entirely driven by women.

In the year to September 2015, 1.7 per cent of Australian men reported being lactose intolerant, a figure which has remained relatively stable over the past few years, growing by just 3,000 men nationwide. In contrast, 6.2 per cent of women (576,000) say they are lactose intolerant, up from 3.8 per cent (337,000) in the year to September 2011.

Lactose intolerance occurs when a person’s body doesn’t produce enough of the lactase enzyme to break down the lactose found in dairy milk and some food.

“Although medical and health research does not tend to identify women as being more susceptible to the condition than men, our data shows that it is considerably more prevalent among Australian women,” Roy Morgan Research CEO Michele Levine said.

“To minimise its symptoms, people who are lactose intolerant need to avoid certain dairy products and our data bears this out: 58.6 per cent of them avoid dairy foods whenever possible [compared with the national average of 13.4 per cent]. Curiously, given their heightened risk of osteoporosis, lactose-intolerant people are slightly less likely than average to try to get enough calcium in their diet.”

Ms Levine says food and beverage brands wishing to reach lactose-intolerant consumers with products catering to their dietary limitations need an in-depth knowledge of these people to ensure their marketing resonates with the right audience.

‘Beyond age/gender breakdowns, a more holistic understanding of how lactose-intolerant Aussies feel about food and health could make all the difference when it comes to attracting them,” she said.

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