About 24% of this older EU population are expected to experience a ‘hospital event’ due to cardiovascular disease (CVD) over the next five years – with a total of 38.4 million such events forecast.
Set to cost as much as €1.328 trillion collectively over this five-year period, this represents a huge strain on EU health budgets.
Published today (10 May), the report commissioned by the trade group FSE and conducted by market research firm Frost & Sullivan argued policies on omega-3 supplementation could go a long way in alleviating this financial burden.
Using a review of scientific literature of omega-3 benefits for this population, they found CVD hospital events in Europe could be reduced by 4.9% if all over 55s
were given a daily 1 g dose of omega-3 EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
This 4.9% would equate to 1.5m fewer hospital events across the EU between 2016 and 2020 and total five-year savings of €64.5bn or €12.9bn per year on avoided health care.
Show me the money
FSE director of regulatory and scientific affairs Patrick Coppens told NutraIngredients the figures would be hard for EU policy makers to ignore.
“That realisation [that health care savings can be made through supplementation] I think is new. And it's that realisation that we want to bring over with this study,” he said.
“This is economic data you can hardly ignore. It is something we think should be realised by EU policy makers.”
The economic analysis was the first of its kind for this issue in Europe and represented a tide change in the way arguments for supplementation are presented, he said.
“I think in order to support the role of nutritional components and supplementation, there is a lot of literature and science around but the science alone is not sufficient.
“So you have to link it up from an economic perspective and really show policy makers there are substantial gains to be made.”
Omega-3 heart benefits are well documented, with EPA and DHA already holding several approved EU health claims for the maintenance of normal blood triglyceride levels, blood pressure and function of the heart for doses higher than the daily 1 g outlined in the report.
Indeed about 20% of Europeans over the age of 55 already take omega-3, the report said.
Omega-3 was selected for the FSE’s first economic analysis because of the "concrete" scientific backing, with 18 randomised controlled trials included in the analysis.
Yet other nutrients may be on the cards for future economic reports, Coppens said.