UK women unconcerned about cholesterol, report

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cholesterol, Health care

A new report has highlighted a lack of awareness about
cholesterol-levels amongst many British women, which could be
addressed by marketing from food manufacturers and educational
efforts from heathcare organisations.

The report, called Caring about Cholesterol, has been launched by Flora, Unilever's cholesterol-lowering food brand, and private healthcare company BUPA.

In a recent survey of 1003 adults over the age of 40 conducted for the two companies, four out of 10 women said they had never had a cholesterol test, compared to three out of 10 men - and women were less likely to be taking steps to address their LDL 'bad' cholesterol levels.

This suggest that high cholesterol and heart disease is still seen as a predominantly male affliction, even though statistics show that the risk for women increases with age. If food companies may be able to tap more sales from this group if they target it with their marketing.

The average cholesterol level in the UK is between 5.5 and 5.6mmol/l, according to the charity Heart UK. But most people should have levels no higher than 5mmol/l, and those at high risk of heart disease 4mmol/l.

Moreover, where the women were aware of cholesterol risks, they tend to clump it under the same banner as, and no more important than, other changes brought on by age, such as wrinkles on the skin.

Plant sterols, such as those contained in Flora pro-activ, been the subject of a raft of studies investigating their cholesterol-lowering ability. Dietary measures to manage cholesterol are increasingly being flagged as an alternative to statin drugs, but doctors play an important role in advising their patients of this and other measures they can take.

As it is, the survey indicated that people may be inclined to take some but not all lifestyle measure to combat high cholesterol. For instance, less than half try to reduce their waste measurement, eat more good fats instead of saturated or trans fats, consume foods designed to reduce cholesterol.

Anna Wheeler, nutrition manager for Flora, said: "Healthcare professionals have a vital role in raising the awareness of the importance of heart health in women. Motivating women to recognise the need to change to healthier diets and lifestyles could lead to positive public health outcomes.

At present, the UK's spend on treating heart-related medical conditions is around £3.52bn (c €5bn).

As for Flora, it has joined forces with BUPA in an interesting marketing initiative: people who buy the product also have the opportunity for three months free health insurance; and up until the end of the year, BUPA is offering consumers 15 per cent of some of its health assessments with one Flora purchase.

Related topics: Polyphenols, Cardiovascular health

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