Lactose intolerance is a widespread condition affecting over 1 billion people worldwide and over 40 million people in the United States (or 15% of the U.S. population), with an estimated 9 million of those individuals demonstrating moderate to severe symptoms.1,2 In the United States alone, we believe lactose intolerance is a large and underserved market. Current annual spending on over‐the‐counter lactose intolerance aids in the United States has been estimated at approximately $2.45 billion.3 However, these options are limited and there is no long-term treatment available.
The map below provides a worldwide outlook of prevalence by region.
A population’s ability to digest lactose evolved as a genetic adaptation based on the historical pervasiveness of dairy products in that market. Therefore, lactose intolerance is more common in regions that have traditionally consumed low amounts of milk. Some examples of countries with a high prevalence of lactose intolerance are China, Japan, India, Italy, and Brazil. Over eighty percent of China’s 1.3 billion people are believed to suffer from lactose intolerance. Alternatively, in populations where dairy consumption is more conventional, such as Denmark or Sweden, lactose intolerance has had less of an impact.
Global Significance of Dairy
Refrigeration, a relatively new convenience for industrialized regions, has allowed for easier dairy storage and transportation, providing greater access to dairy products around the world. Further, increased global trade of goods throughout the world has provided a platform for many countries that historically did not have access to dairy foods to now have access. With the introduction of available dairy foods, more countries are increasing their dairy consumption for both its health benefits and because they simply enjoy dairy based foods, such as milk, pizza and ice cream.
In addition, lactose intolerance awareness and education have also increased, and thus more and more individuals are discovering that the cause of their digestive distress is related to dairy products.
- NIG Consensus Statement, LIH, Vol. 27, #2 (February 2010)
- Objective Insights, “Market Research Analysis and Forecasts on Lactose Intolerance and RP-G28,” p.4 and 7 (June 2012)
- Zpryme Research & Consulting, “The Digestive Health Prescription Drug Market,” (May 2009)