Survey: About half of Americans with GI issues concerned about side effects

CHICAGO — As many as 86% of Americans have experienced some type of GI or digestive issue in the past year, but according to recent Mintel research, some 40% of those who suffer from gastrointestinal issues are concerned about the side effects associated with them, the company reported Friday.

Suggesting further consumer reluctance about using gastrointestinal remedies, 38% of sufferers agree that they only use them when absolutely necessary. Despite the preponderance of gastrointestinal issues in the United States, sales of antacids and laxatives declined by 2.5% from 2011 to 2013 and are expected to remain mostly flat through 2018.

"The prevalence of gastrointestinal issues suggests that the market of products to treat these issues is prime for growth," said Emily Krol, health and wellness analyst at Mintel. "However, American consumers appear to be taking a more proactive stance to their health and looking to prevent issues rather than treat them."

Indeed, some 29% of consumers say they have changed their diet to add more yogurt and fiber-rich foods to manage their digestive health and nearly a quarter (24%) have changed their diet to eliminate problem foods that aggravate digestive issues. Meanwhile, 22% have tried exercising more, 17% have lost weight and 13% have started taking regular probiotics, all in an effort to manage their gastrointestinal problems.

Gastrointestinal troubles can have a huge impact on consumers' daily lives, with 41% of Americans who have experienced gastrointestinal issues stating that the pain associated with them is "often unbearable." Meanwhile, 64% say that it's frustrating when gastrointestinal problems get in the way of things they want to do, and 36% agree that suffering from gastrointestinal issues makes them feel unattractive.

"Gastrointestinal issues can be frustrating to those who suffer from them," Krol said. "To alleviate consumer concerns, brands can help consumers feel comfortable and confident that OTC GI remedies will help them to feel better quickly. Positioning products as part of an overall healthy lifestyle will contribute to success in this market."

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