Two-Thirds of Americans Are Living With Gut Issues, Unaware of the Health Consequences


New MDVIP/Ipsos Survey Finds Americans Confused About the Gut’s Impact on Chronic Illness, Food Sensitivities and Brain Health

Boca Raton, Fla. – May 24, 2023 – When it comes to gut health, Americans are not keeping theirs in check. A new study from MDVIP and Ipsos finds two-thirds of adults experience recurrent digestive symptoms like gas, bloating and abdominal pain, but few seek care from their doctor. The survey also reveals that most people are not aware of the importance of gut health and ways to improve it, with over half (52%) saying they are confused by the deluge of information on diet and nutrition and 85% of Americans failing a Gut IQ quiz.

“Millions of Americans suffer from gastrointestinal issues that not only affect their quality of life but are also linked to serious health conditions ranging from diabetes and heart disease to Alzheimer’s and autoimmune disorders,” said Dr. Andrea Klemes, chief medical officer of MDVIP. “We want to help people understand that they don’t have to suffer in silence and that their issues are real and likely treatable. They need to talk to a primary care doctor who makes them feel comfortable and will take the time to listen and get to the root of their symptoms.”

Watch the video on 5 Gut Health Myths

Other notable findings from the MDVIP/Ipsos survey include:

  • Bathroom Behavior: Nearly 7 in 10 adults believe the myth that healthy people should have a bowel movement every day (69%). Still, half of all Americans say they avoid pooping in a public restroom (50%).
  • Gender Gap: 75% of women experience gastrointestinal symptoms at least a few times a month compared to 57% of men. But women are more likely to feel dismissed when seeking care, with 2 in 5 saying their health concerns weren’t taken seriously by a doctor (38% vs. 24% men).
  • Age Matters: Younger Americans experience more digestive woes, with 73% of adults ages 18-44 having symptoms at least a few times a month (vs. 44% adults 65+). One-third of young adults say gut issues affect their self-esteem (34%), and 2 in 5 have avoided sex/intimacy due to them (40%).
  • Knowledge Deficit:
    • ◦ 2 in 3 Americans are unfamiliar with the term “gut microbiome,” which are the trillions of bacteria living in the digestive tract.
      ◦ 3 in 5 Americans don’t know that an unhealthy gut can increase heart attack, stroke and dementia risk.
      ◦ 71% of Americans don’t know antibiotics can kill good gut bacteria in addition to the bad.
      ◦ 60% of Americans don’t know that food sensitives are not the same as food allergies.

  • Quick Fix: Almost half of Americans have used over-the-counter digestive products such as fiber supplements and laxatives, 2 in 5 have taken probiotic supplements and 1 in 5 have done a colon cleanse or enema.

“Many people are looking for a magic pill, but the best way to a healthier gut is through the food you eat,” added Dr. Klemes. “Start with the dynamic duo of probiotics and prebiotics which work together in promoting the good bacteria in your gut. Examples are yogurt, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid highly processed foods which compromise the gut microbiome. With simple dietary changes, a little can go a long way.”

About the MDVIP Gut Health Survey
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between March 28-29, 2023, on behalf of MDVIP. For this survey, a sample of 1,005 adults aged 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample also includes 451 respondents aged 18-44, 311 respondents aged 45-64, and 243 respondents aged 65+. The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for all respondents.


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