Fish oil could save €13bn a year in EU healthcare costs

1.5 million cases of heart disease preventable in 5 years through more widespread use of omega-3 supplements, a new study says

More widespread regular consumption of omega-3 supplements could save healthcare systems and providers in the EU a total of €12.9bn a year, according to an independent study commissioned by Food Supplements Europe.

Using existing published literature and official data, researchers at Frost & Sullivan explored the financial benefits of the consumption of omega-3 EPA+DHA food supplements among people aged 55 and over. This demographic group, representing 157.6 million people or 31% of the total EU population, is considered to be at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Overall it is forecast that in the EU, 24% of people aged 55 and over (38.4 million people) are in danger of experiencing a CVD-attributed hospital event between 2016 and 2020. This is expected to cost as much as €1.328 trillion during this 5-year period – equivalent to €34,637 per event.

However, an analysis indicates that more widespread daily consumption of 1000mg of omega-3 EPA+DHA fish oil among individuals aged 55-plus would result in more than 1.5 million fewer CVD-attributed hospital events across the EU between now and 2020, generating total cost savings of €64.5bn – or €12.9bn per annum.

The results of the study are detailed in a new report: The Healthcare Cost Savings of Omega-3 Food Supplements in the European Union. Food Supplements Europe Chair Ingrid Atteryd said: 'This healthcare cost savings study shows very clearly that billions of Euros could be saved by encouraging people aged 55-plus to use omega-3 food supplements regularly to reduce their risk of developing CVD. Communicating this message through official advice at both EU and national level, as well as via healthcare professionals and the media, could have a major positive impact on people’s well-being, while also significantly cutting the cost burden on healthcare systems and providers.'

The study found that the annual financial savings achievable through more widespread regular use of omega - supplements varied between EU member states. The biggest economic benefits would be seen in Germany, which could avoid costs of €3.86bn a year, according to the research findings.

The omega-3 healthcare cost savings study was commissioned and funded by Food Supplements Europe but conducted independently by Frost & Sullivan, which autonomously developed the methodology to calculate the cost savings. Ms Atteryd added: 'This was an objective study, based on official data, conducted professionally by an independent research team using rigorous methodology and analysis techniques. It carries a powerful and compelling message, which shows that omega-3 food supplements have the potential to be a real force for good.'

She concluded: 'Our chief aim is to create a more favourable regulatory and commercial environment for food supplements in the EU, through demonstrating the highly positive role they can play in promoting good health and reducing healthcare costs. This new report is a further step on that journey — and a very important one.'