Nestlé focuses on nutrition at the World Public Health Congress in Portugal

Sep 24, 2010
Water pump WORLD PUBLIC HEALTH CONGRESS: Nestlé held a satellite symposium to discuss healthy lifestyles for children and how partnerships can help provide solutions.

A number of leading health experts joined forces to discuss children’s lifestyle issues at a Nestlé-led symposium during the second World Public Health Congress (WPHC).

The ‘Healthy Lifestyles for Children: How Partnerships Can Help’ symposium – which took place at the WPHC event on Thursday, September 23 in the Portuguese city of Porto – generated discussion on ambitious international programmes and processes to change children’s lifestyles, including food habits and daily physical activities.

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Participants included Dr Armando Barrigete Melendez, of the Mexican Ministry of Health and the Cinco Passos programme; and Professor Monique Romon, of the French NGO Fleurbaix Laventie Ville Santé (FLVS), who is currently developing EPODE (Ensemble, Prevenons l’Obesite Des Enfants) in France and coordinates the PPP (Public Private Partnerships) committee within the EPODE European Network.

They were joined by Dr Natalie Almeras, of Laval University, in Quebec, initiator of the Aligo Programme developed in schools and communities in Quebec, Canada; together with Dr Pedro Graça and Professor Rui Lima from the Obesity platform in Portugal, representing the Ministries for Health and Education and the School Fruit Scheme in Portugal.

The symposium – moderated by Dr Miriam Stoppard, a British author on maternal and child health issues – provided a strategic and operational view on four major programmes targeting children lifestyles, all based on comprehensive approaches involving multiple stakeholders.

The Nestlé symposium also supported the need for creative partnership approaches to effectively tackle those issues. In many countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Commission (EC), national ministries for health, public health actors, NGOs and the private sector are already exploring and implementing joined-up actions targeted at improving children’s knowledge and lifestyles.

The three-day annual WPHC event also highlighted the problems of malnutrition which continue to exist in developing countries.

The negative impact on health due to micronutrient deficiencies in both children and adults was recognised by the Copenhagen Consensus in 2008 as the top priority challenge. 

One third of the world’s population suffering deficiencies in iron, vitamin A, zinc and iodine – especially in the emerging markets of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.  To address such urgent needs, the Consensus concluded that micronutrient-fortified foods and supplements are the most cost-effective solutions.

Nestlé has continued to expand its micronutrient fortification of its products in response to these urgent needs. For example, in 2009, micronutrient-fortified affordable milks were available in 60 countries worldwide – an increase from 40 countries the year before.  By the end of 2010, the Company aims to provide such products in 70 countries.

Dr Denis Barclay of Nestlé’s Corporate Wellness Unit – who spoke at the Nestlé stand during the WPHC event – explained how Nestlé is helping to satisfy the nutritional needs of low-income consumers through micronutrient fortification of Popularly Positioned Products (PPPs).

He said: “It is primarily children and young women in developing regions who are suffering from deficiencies in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, iron, iodine and zinc.  Nestlé fortifies affordable foods such as Nido powdered milks, Maggi bouillons, seasonings, noodles and cereals with these key micronutrients, and it has been shown that such products do help low-income consumers to improve their nutritional intakes and status.”

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II World Congress of Public Health Nutrition