Research Article

Consistency of use of plant stanol ester margarine in Finland

Meri Simojokia1, Riitta Luotoa2 c1, Antti Uutelaa1, John D Boice Jra3a4, Joseph K McLaughlina3a4 and Pekka Puskaa1a5

a1 Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland

a2 Health Education Research Unit, The UKK Institute, Postbox 30, FIN-33501, Tampere, Finland

a3 International Epidemiology Institute, Rockville, MD, USA

a4 Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt–Ingram Cancer Center, Nashville TN, USA

a5 Department of Noncommunicable Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland


Objective: The aims of this study were to investigate the consistency of use of plant stanol ester margarine and to characterise consistent and inconsistent users.

Design: A cohort of plant stanol ester margarine users was established based on 14 national surveys conducted by the National Public Health Institute in Finland between 1996 and 1999. A follow-up study questionnaire was developed and sent to 1294 users in 2000.

Setting: Subjects who reported using plant stanol ester margarine in both the original survey and the follow-up study were classified as consistent users, and the rest as inconsistent users.

Subjects: The study population consisted of 1094 subjects aged 18–87 years, 590 men and 504 women.

Results: There were 357 (33%) consistent and 737 (67%) inconsistent users of plant stanol ester margarine in the study population. Consistent users were more likely to be men and to have a higher household income than inconsistent users. Both consistent and inconsistent users were predominantly middle-aged persons with a healthy lifestyle and diet as well as a history of cardiovascular disease. Healthfulness was the main factor affecting bread spread choice among 94% of the consistent users and 59% of the inconsistent users.

Conclusions: The use of plant stanol ester margarine is more often inconsistent than consistent. There is nevertheless a relatively large subgroup of long-term users of plant stanol ester margarine. It is important to examine the health effects especially among these regular users.

(Received December 05 2002)

(Accepted June 25 2003)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email