Researchers at Kansas State University conducted a study on lactose-free products and found that “more efforts are needed from the dairy industry to develop better lactose-free products and to educate consumers about lactose-free dairy products.”
According to the study, lactose intolerance occurs when the human body is unable to produce the lactase enzyme required to break down lactose to glucose and galactose for the body to metabolize.
As a result the lactose is fermented in the intestine where it can produce unpleasant conditions such as gas, bloating and diarrhea.
In the U.S. demand for lactose-free dairy products has increased by about 20 per cent per year since 1997.
According to NeilsonDairy.com, between 30 and 50 million people are lactose intolerant in North America. In Canada, that includes approximately one million women and 400,000 men.
Raise awareness among consumers
Based on the results of the study, the researches concluded that the majority of consumers were aware of lactose-free products in the market, but they were unaware of the benefits associated with them.
The researchers say their results can be very useful to the dairy industry and provide a better understanding of the differences between regular milks and lactose-free milks in order to produce better tasting lactose-free products and to educate lactose-intolerant consumers about the benefits of lactose-free milks.
The researchers also found that while most consumers consume lower fat milks, they gave higher scores to the reduced-fat and whole milk samples. For this reason the researchers suggest that lactose-free reduced fat and whole lactose-free milks should first be recommended to lactose-intolerant consumers.