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World Gastroenterology Organisation and Danone Launch Global Campaign to Improve Digestive Health

Source: Groupe Danone

London, 29 May 2008 - Today, on the occasion of World Digestive Health Day (WDHD), the World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) and Danone have launched a year long campaign titled 'Optimum Health and Nutrition' , focusing on the link between nutrition and digestive health.

An unbalanced diet, rushing or skipping food and an unhealthy lifestyle may all contribute to the digestive disorders which affect millions world wide. In a consumer study, more than 55% of women interviewed around the world claimed to suffer from digestive disorders (such as constipation, bloating and heartburn). This campaign is part of a three-year partnership between WGO and Danone to help raise awareness of digestive disorders and the importance of maintaining good digestive health.

Millions worldwide suffer from digestive disorders which can seriously impact well-being and quality of life. For example, constipation can lead to discomfort, bloating and irregularity, all of which can affect confidence and leave sufferers feeling less sociable and even attractive. However, constipation is largely ignored, with less than a third of sufferers actively seeking treatment – in the consumer study 44% of women claimed to suffer from constipation1 but a WGO report released today shows that only 15% of people who suffer from constipation actually visit a doctor.

Overall, digestive disorders are associated with considerable discomfort, disability, disruption of family life, high healthcare costs, and time lost from work and other productive activities3. In Europe, approximately 40 to 80 million people are affected by digestive disorders and projected costs are Euros 5.1bn while in the US, they account for 13% of all hospitalisations and nearly USD 24bn in costs.

According to Professor Eamonn Quigley, President, World Gastroenterology Organisation, “This year, we celebrate our 50th anniversary and have chosen to highlight the crucial topic of nutrition and digestive health. Digestive disorders affect a significant percent of the population and can lead to serious conditions such as colon cancer. We believe that nutrition is integral to digestive health – and overall health – and within nutrition, daily probiotics can play a major role in improving digestive health. Working jointly with Danone, a world leader in food nutrition, we hope to increase awareness of digestive disorders and help people improve their digestive health through easily implemented nutritional and lifestyle changes.”

Nutrition, along with lifestyle, plays an important role in digestive health. Simple yet effective food choices such as including fibre, raw fruits and vegetables, adequate intake of fluids and exercise can help maintain digestive health. The daily consumption of scientifically proven probiotics can also help improve digestive health.

Dr Nigel Hughes, Vice President R&D, Groupe Danone, says “This partnership demonstrates the commitment of Danone to improving nutrition and digestive health. Most digestive disorders are caused by poor or inadequate nutrition. The WGO has recently released nutritional guidelines including the daily consumption of probiotics and we hope more healthcare professionals will include probiotic foods with proven health benefits, such as Activia yogurt, in the management of people with digestive disorders.”

For the campaign, the WGO and Danone have developed a range of useful materials about digestive health and nutrition for use by the general public and healthcare professionals. Among these are a set of 10 simple, easy to follow nutritional recommendations and a nutritional pyramid as guidance for consumers looking to improve their digestive health. The WGO has also developed a DVD on nutrition and digestive health featuring interviews with leading European experts in addition to guidelines on Probiotics for reference by healthcare professionals and nutritionists. Danone is also planning a series of consumer awareness television ads and information on product packaging to highlight the importance of nutrition to consumers.

Over the next three years, Danone and the WGO will continue to work together to raise awareness of digestive disorders and help make fellow healthcare professionals, the general public and governments more aware of issues – local, national and global – relating to nutrition and, especially, as they relate to digestive health and disease. In addition, a scientific board series of studies will be carried out annually to determine the prevalence of digestive disorders worldwide and provide clear nutritional recommendations based on local habits and disorders.

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