Usage of plant food supplements across six european countries: Findings from the plantlibra consumer survey

Alicia Garcia-Alvarez, Bernadette Egan, Simone De Klein, Lorena Dima, Franco M. Maggi, Merja Isoniemi, Lourdes Ribas-Barba, Monique M. Raats, Eva Melanie Meissner, Mihaela Badea, Flavia Bruno, Maija Salmenhaara, Raimon Milà-Villarroel, Viktoria Knaze, Charo Hodgkins, Angela Marculescu, Liisa Uusitalo, Patrizia Restani, Lluís Serra-Majem

Research output: Indexed journal article Reviewpeer-review

117 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The popularity of botanical products is on the rise in Europe, with consumers using them to complement their diets or to maintain health, and products are taken in many different forms (e.g. teas, juices, herbal medicinal products, plant food supplements (PFS)). However there is a scarcity of data on the usage of such products at European level. Objective: To provide an overview of the characteristics and usage patterns of PFS consumers in six European countries. Design: Data on PFS usage were collected in a cross-sectional, retrospective survey of PFS consumers using a bespoke frequency of PFS usage questionnaire. Subjects/setting: A total sample of 2359 adult PFS consumers from Finland, Germany, Italy, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom. Data analyses: Descriptive analyses were conducted, with all data stratified by gender, age, and country. Absolute frequencies, percentages and 95% confidence intervals are reported. Results: Overall, an estimated 18.8% of screened survey respondents used at least one PFS. Characteristics of PFS consumers included being older, well-educated, never having smoked and self-reporting health status as ''good or very good''. Across countries, 491 different botanicals were identified in the PFS products used, with Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgo), Oenothera biennis (Evening primrose) and Cynara scolymus (Artichoke) being most frequently reported; the most popular dose forms were capsules and pills/tablets. Most consumers used one product and half of all users took single-botanical products. Some results varied across countries. Conclusions: The PlantLIBRA consumer survey is unique in reporting on usage patterns of PFS consumers in six European countries. The survey highlights the complexity of measuring the intake of such products, particularly at pan-European level. Incorporating measures of the intake of botanicals in national dietary surveys would provide much-needed data for comprehensive risk and benefit assessments at the European level. Copyright:

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere92265
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


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