By Claire Sullivan, Senior Director, Strategic Marketing, Kerry Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa
As a woman ages, she will face changes in her physical state, hormonal, and general well-being. Yet, though women make up about half of the global population, a recent survey by Hologic and Gallup found a large percentage believe their health needs aren’t being met.
Euromonitor reports that 50 percent of women globally are concerned with women’s health issues. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), women’s health needs range from female-specific ones, such as breast and cervical cancers, to fertility, pregnancy, and menopause, and common concerns like stress management, sleep, skin/hair/nail health, to sexual health, depending on life stage.
However, efforts to improve women’s health must be multifaceted to include more women-centric medical research, better access to various types of care, broader public education, and new, targeted technologies, treatments, and support.
For example, while both breast and cervical cancers each result in as many as half a million women’s deaths annually, preventive measures such as screenings and vaccines against known causes, like the HPV virus, have helped prevent even more deaths.
Today, more women than ever are taking charge of their health as they become more aware of the connection between a healthy lifestyle — such as a balanced diet and regular exercise — and better health, including a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
In fact, FMCG Gurus reports that 75 percent of women surveyed say they are adopting a long-term approach to health maintenance, including preventive care.
This is where the food and beverage industry can support women in managing their health. Supplements, too, can play a big role. A Grand View Research report revealed that in Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, the women’s health supplements market is worth US$9.2 billion, higher than North America’s US$7.8 billion. In 2021, the global supplements market for women’s health stood at more than US$23 billion, with a projected 5.3 percent CAGR between 2023-2030. Popular ingredients in women’s health supplements include botanicals (47%), followed by minerals and probiotics.
But brands need to balance speaking to women’s unique health concerns without over-generalising or stereotyping. Besides reformulating products to contain less sugar, salt, and fat, creating products with carefully selected ingredients can help women address some of their specific concerns.
What, then, are some common health challenges facing women, and more importantly, what clinically-backed ingredients can enable women to do more for their health? Here are some suggestions:
Fertility, maternal health, and menopause: The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that women’s top health concerns include balancing levels of vital hormones like estrogen and progesterone, which can influence a woman’s health throughout her life. Caronositol Fertility® supports the hormonal and metabolic balance in a woman’s reproductive cycle and can be added to women’s specific supplements, as can Luprenol™, an ingredient that supports menopausal and post-menopausal symptoms.
Stress reduction, sleep support, and immune health: Oxfam reports that globally, women undertake more than 75 percent of unpaid care work, which can lead to too much stress and compromise their immune system. Stress can also affect the quality of sleep and, in turn, overall well-being. Consider including Sensoril® Ashwagandha for stress support and Wellmune® for immune health and stress, to a calming herbal beverage such as lavender tea.
Digestive and immune health: Kerry’s 2022 proprietary consumer research report, Functional Forecasting, indicates that digestive health is a priority for nearly half of the global consumers surveyed, with women ranking it more highly than men. While maintaining a healthy digestive system can aid nutrient absorption, supporting it provides immune health benefits, too. Probiotics such as Sporevia®, designed for supplements, and BC30®, which can be incorporated into foods and beverages, can offer digestive and immune health benefits for all ages.
Joint health and mobility: The Osteoarthritis Foundation reports that 7 in 10 women over age 35 suffer from joint pain, including discomfort from wear and tear, as well as autoimmune diseases. Supplements or beverages with AyuFlex® can provide comfort in joints and the soft tissues surrounding them.
Heart health: Heart disease is the top cause of death among women, according to the Go Red for Women Foundation. While maintaining a healthy diet is critical, Omega-3s can further boost brain and eye health. Dairy beverages or yoghurts with Eupoly-3® Omega-3s for heart health benefits deliver a stable, science-backed solution with no unpleasant taste for foods, beverages, and supplements.
Women are at the heart of families and communities, and a gap in addressing their complex health needs can become a societal issue, not just a problem for women. A recent study review in the journal PLoS found, ‘Societies that prioritise women’s health will likely have better population health overall and will remain more productive for generations to come.’
Explore KerryDigest for more leading food research, insights, and innovations from our experts.