Two in every five adults stated that they experience symptoms of digestive discomfort at least once a week
Women are more than twice as likely as men to be emotionally affected by the effects of Digestive Discomfort
A national attitudinal survey about Irish adults’ digestive health conducted on behalf of Danone Activia has found that the majority of Irish adults are suffering in silence from digestive health issues despite the fact that poor digestive health can potentially lead to more serious health issues.
Two in every five adults stated that they experience symptoms of digestive discomfort at least once a week according to a poll of over 1,000 people, and almost half of those questioned said that they suffer from constipation at least twice a month. However, only 6% said that they proactively consult their GP or a health care professional when they are experiencing digestive discomfort, which would suggest that the majority are suffering in silence.
The Danone Activia Digestive Health Survey has found that 83% of adults aged 25 – 34 suffer from bloating or a swollen belly regularly and that 38% of adults reported symptoms such as feeling heavy and slow digestion more than once a week.
The survey of over 1,000 people found that women are more than twice as likely as men to be emotionally affected by the effects of digestive discomfort, with 35% of women stating that they feel less attractive when suffering from the symptoms, versus only 15% of men.
When asked about the effects of a bloated tummy specifically, women are twice as likely to worry about what they look like in their swimwear (40% versus 23% of men). Digestive health and associated symptoms of discomfort have a considerable impact on individuals’ day-to-day lives: 51% say that they are low in energy or feel tired 44% feel bloated, almost 30% feel in a bad mood and 10% experience reduced libido. Despite the prevalence of symptoms, only 2% take time off work when suffering from varying levels of discomfort.
While only 6% of those polled consult a doctor or nurse when they are experiencing discomfort, it is encouraging that people are looking at diet & lifestyle changes in order to alleviate symptoms. Six in every ten people asked said that they drink more water, and 3 in every 10 consume probiotic yoghurt, and half of respondents are more careful about what they eat. The majority of respondents feel that a healthy diet can have an important role to play in ensuring a healthy digestive system: 80% believe that they two are closely related.
Jill McCarron, Director of Health Affairs, Danone said: “The survey results show that although people are suffering from uncomfortable digestive symptoms, they may be reluctant to talk about it. This is actually a health issue which impacts on people’s emotional and physical wellbeing yet due to the taboo nature of some elements of the issue people seem to be reluctant to consult an expert, preferring instead to find their own solution.
“This summer, we are running a campaign to raise public awareness about the importance of a healthy digestive system. We are encouraging people to consider their own digestive health and take some simple steps* on a long-term basis in order to adjust their lifestyle to improve their digestion – people do not need to suffer the symptoms in silence. Simple things, like consuming probiotic yogurt everyday such as Danone Activia, can have a positive impact on your digestive health and overall well-being.”
Consultant Dietitian, Sarah Keogh said that the survey findings are consistent with what she sees in her own practice: “Digestive health is not something that people – especially Irish people – are comfortable discussing, and as such people don’t realise that something needs attention. People are often shy about asking for help.
“Yet poor digestive health can really affect the quality of life for many people and can impact on their health and wellbeing. Therefore raising awareness of this issue is very important, and campaigns that promote digestive health awareness – such as this – have an important role to play in encouraging the general population to look after the health of their digestive system.
“I would suggest that people keep a food diary for a few weeks to see if there is any pattern between what they are consuming and when they suffer from the symptoms of digestive discomfort. People often think of allergies first, but the problem is more likely to be a lack of fibre or not drinking enough fluids. Small changes can make a big difference: a little more fibre, a little more water, probiotics everyday – all of these things can help to ensure a healthier digestive system. If you do have concerns about your digestive health, it is very important that you consult a healthcare professional and get informed advice.”
For tips on how to help reduce your digestive discomfort log on to www.activia.ie.
At the launch of the research, Jill McCarron gave details of the number of ways in which Danone Activia is supporting people with digestive discomfort: “Experts say that keeping a food and symptoms diary can be a good way to monitor what foods contribute to your symptoms, so we have developed one which is available to download for free at activia.ie. There, people will also find a range of tips and advice on how you can love your tummy and take care of it, including enjoying Activia everyday. When eaten everyday as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, Activia, with its exclusive culture Bifidus ActiRegularis, is scientifically proven to help to reduce digestive discomfort,thus it can help when you’re feeling a bit sluggish or bloated.”
 Danone Digestive Health Attitudinal Study May 2011: Slide 16
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