Knowledge and Consumption Practices on Probiotics in Selected Low to Middle-income Class Filipino Mothers in an Urban City
Objective. Mothers are exposed to various functional food components, including probiotics, which have a direct effect on the quality of their breast milk. Probiotics enhance the microbial composition of breast milk, making it more beneficial for the infant’s gut health. This study aimed to explore the extent of knowledge and dietary practices on probiotics among low- to middle-income healthy Filipino mothers in an urban area.
Methods. Data was gathered using three focus group discussions (FGD) participated in by low- to middle-income healthy Filipino mothers residing in Barangays West Rembo and Rizal in Makati City, Philippines. Prior to the FGD, preliminary interviews of selected participants and market surveys were done to determine the food items to be included in the FGD questionnaire.
Results. A total of 19 mothers participated in the FGDs. The most common probiotic sources identified were yogurt, fermented milk product (Yakult), miso and tausi. The most consumed probiotic source was fermented milk product (94.7% of participants), at least once a month; followed by powdered milk (78.9%), consumed daily. The most commonly reported influence for consumption of these food items was advertisements from television (89.5%). About 53% of the participants related probiotics to better digestion and increased immunity as heard from advertisements and through counselling by physicians. When asked to elaborate on how probiotics influence digestion and immunity, almost all participants had difficulty explaining the benefits.
Conclusion. Although majority of the participants consumed food sources of probiotics, they had limited knowledge on its other non-food sources and benefits. In addition, the consumed food source was confined to the food item that was most advertised on television. Thus, there is a need for health and nutrition experts to exert a stronger influence in the community by disseminating information regarding probiotics.