Phytosterol-enriched products on the irish market: examination of intake and consumption patterns
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OBJECTIVE: To study patterns of phytosterol intakes in the Irish population from enriched sources. DESIGN: An interview-assisted questionnaire, which recorded information on sociodemographics, product types, intake amounts and patterns of intake. Independent samples t tests, one-way ANOVA and cross-tabulations were used to establish significant relationships between groups of variables. The top tertile of phytosterol intakes was also calculated. SETTING: Point-of-purchase of phytosterol-enriched products in Irish supermarkets. SUBJECTS: Four hundred and sixty-eight consumers (186 men and 282 women) of phytosterol-enriched foods. RESULTS: The mean phytosterol intake from enriched sources for the sample population was 2.45 g/d. Men had greater intakes than women (2.71 g/d v. 2.29 g/d, respectively). A total of 62 % of consumers were unaware of the importance of consuming fruit and vegetables while taking these products. The majority of respondents reported that they had high cholesterol (61 %) and 22 % of consumers also took cholesterol-lowering medication (statins). In total, 23 % had phytosterol intakes >3.0 g/d and the majority of consumers (58 %) had been consuming these products for >1 year. The mean intake for respondents with phytosterol intakes >3.0 g/d was 4.1 g/d and 74 % of this subgroup had been consuming these products for >1 year.ConclusionIn general, phytosterol intakes are within efficacious levels in the Irish population. However, there appears to be a subgroup that has been consuming these products at intakes greater than current recommendations for >1 year.