Lactose Intolerance by Ethnicity and Region


"An estimated 65% of human adults (and most adult mammals) downregulate [decrease] the production of intestinal lactase after weaning. Lactase is necessary for the digestion of lactose, the main carbohydrate in milk, and without it, milk consumption can lead to bloating, flatulence, cramps and nausea. Continued production of lactase throughout adult life (lactase persistence, LP) is a genetically determined trait and is found at moderate to high frequencies in Europeans and some African, Middle Eastern and Southern Asian populations."


Lactose intolerance percentages were taken directly from the source referenced. The fact that some percentages are exact and others are provided as a range is the result of the research methodologies used by the authors of the respective studies. Please note that the data below references lactose intolerance only and not milk allergy. For information on the differences between Lactose Intolerance and Milk Allergy please click here.

Ethnicity /
Geographic Region
% With Lactose Intolerance
1. East Asian 90-100%1
2. Indigenous (North America) 80-100%3
3. Central Asian 80%1
4. African American (North America) 75%2
5. African (Africa) 70-90%1
6. Indian (Southern India) 70%1
7. French (Southern France) 65%1
8. Ashkenazi Jew (North America) 60-80%3
9. Balkans Region 55%1

Ethnicity /
Geographic Region
% With Lactose Intolerance
10. Latino/Hispanic (North America) 51%2
11. Indian (Northern India) 30%1
12. Anglo (North America) 21%2
13. Italian (Italy) 20-70%1
14. French (Northern France) 17%1
15. Finnish (Finland) 17%1
16. Austrian (Austria) 15-20%1
17. German (Germany) 15%1
18. British (U.K.) 5-15%1
 
Sources:
  1. Michael de Vrese "Probiotics: Compensation for Lactase Insufficiency," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Feb., 2001

  2. Nevin S. Scrimshaw, MD "The Acceptability of Milk and Milk Products in Populations with a High Prevalence of Lactose Intolerance," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Oct., 1988

  3. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development "Lactose Intolerance: Information for Health Care Providers," NIH Publication No. 05-5303B, Jan., 2006


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