Joint health trends: Major industry players see growing interest beyond senior consumers
Lonza said its research showed “an almost equal percentage” of millennials (37 per cent) and baby boomers (38 per cent) expressing interest in joint health.
“In the past five years, we have seen research shift focus beyond just age-related joint degeneration to supporting joint health across all ages and demographics,” Lindsey Toth, associated director, Product Management, Capsules and Health Ingredients told NutraIngredientes-Asia.
For those between 50 to 65, they are concerned with maintaining flexibility, while the elderly are likely to prioritise reducing joint pain and improving mobility.
As for the Gen-Z consumers, solutions that support active lifestyle are what they are looking for.
“The health-conscious Gen Z is better-informed than any previous generation about the importance of supporting health throughout life, including their joints.
“Many in Gen Z are looking for joint health solutions that support their active lifestyle, which may involve regular high-intensity workouts with goals of beating their personal bests,” Toth said.
This is also a trend that Gencor has observed, where joint health pertains to a spectrum of needs – from healthy ageing to active nutrition and high-intensity professional sports.
In particular, the company pointed out that claims relating to number of days for a product to take effect have been on the rise.
“First of all, joint health is something that’s prominent across all age groups…An area [of interest] that I have observed is the bioavailability of the ingredient and also the efficacy and acute quickness of how fast a product takes effect. Is it three days, is it eight days or 14 weeks?
“There’s quantitative claims on how fast one can feel the benefits of the product on the joints…I do believe that’s where the industry is going [in terms of research and claims on joint health products],” Mariko Hill, global innovation manager at Gencor told us.
For example, the company's proprietary ingredient Levagen+ made from palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) has been shown in studies that it could alleviate knee osteoarthritis in an eight-week study.
GSK also pointed out how it has been communicating the clinical evidence of its Caltrate joint and mobility product by highlighting how consumers could start to feel the product’s benefits in 90 days.
With joint health becoming relevant to all age groups, scientific studies on joint health are no longer only concentrating on condition-specific subjects but involving healthy subjects as well.
“Condition-specific studies are no longer the rule, and healthy subject studies are growing to support industry needs in extrapolating data to the general population, an exciting shift that also highlights an interest from the general population in proactively managing joint health, versus a sole focus on those suffering from arthritis or osteoarthritis,” said Toth.
When it comes to measuring outcomes, Toth said range of motion (ROM), inclusive of joint flexion and extension, measuring with a double-armed goniometer, as well as joint discomfort using a visual analog scale (VAS) and retrospective discomfort analyses using the Knee Osteoarthritis Outcomes Score (KOOS) questionnaires were commonly used methods.
However, with COVID-19 exerting an impact on general physical activity and wellness, the company also sees the measuring of daily step count as an opportunity to understand how a product could positively impact everyday movement.
For Gencor, it is conducting joint health studies on healthy young adults using its cold-water dispersible curcuma longa extract trademark Hydrocurc.
The trial involves healthy males and females in their 20s who are experiencing joint pain due to different reasons.
“There are various reasons [for joint pain in young people], including sitting for too long, a lack of mobility because of movement restrictions from COVID-19 or playing esports.
“Fun fact, some of the biggest, most common injuries in esports are wrist, neck, and back pain,” Hill said, adding that The Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC) has been the gold standard in measuring outcomes in joint health clinical studies.
Mumbai-based contract research organisation Vedic Lifesciences also said it has seen a shift in the types of participants involved in joint health studies.
About 15 per cent of the firm’s clinical studies are related to joint health.
“Today, while most joint products rely on data from condition-specific studies, we have seen keen interest in healthy volunteer clinical trials.
“Our studies are a unique blend of sports related outcome measures like treadmill exercise protocols and joint function related measures like ROM and WOMAC scores,” said Shalini Srivastava, director of clinical development.