Build and share nutrition knowledge from the first 1000 days through to healthy aging
Sharing nutrition knowledge throughout life
Our research looks at the connection between nutrition and health at all ages – but particularly in the crucial early days of life.
Why it matters
What we eat and drink as young children provides the foundation for our lives as adult. But our nutritional needs change as we grow older. That’s why we devote ourselves to studying the links between nutrition and health at various stages of life: from expectant mothers, babies and children, all the way through to healthy aging.
We’re studying everything from maternal and children’s health to healthy aging. We’re taking a holistic approach that focuses on nutrition, physical activity and their combined impact on metabolic health. We aim to build on the scientific knowledge and use it to make our own foods and beverages healthier and tastier.
What we are doing
Our scientists have worked diligently to deepen our understanding of nutrition knowledge in 2018.
Build knowledge on the associations between nutrition and lifestyle, and biomarkers of health in mothers and children through the EpiGen collaboration.
Our result: In Italy and Mexico, we have launched G-Balance, a new nutritional solution for the maintenance of myo-inositol and probiotics for pregnant women.
Build further knowledge on dietary intake, eating behaviors and lifestyles in infants and children.
Our result: As part of our FITS KNHS study, we carried out research into the diets of children in the Philippines to help understand any nutritional gaps there might be – and how we can address them.
Develop a deeper understanding of dietary intake, preferences and lifestyle habits during aging.
Our result: Nestlé Health Science BOOST has launched a multimedia protein education campaign on healthy aging aimed at consumers, retailers and healthcare professionals.
How we share our findings with healthcare professionals
Healthcare professionals, scientists and nutrition communities are – of course – key players in the global effort to build a healthier future. Through our not-for-profit Nestlé Nutrition Institute (NNI), we have been sharing science-based information with these communities. In 2018, our global website and 16 local websites reached 338 435 HCPs registered members across 196 countries. We hosted two global workshops on ‘what children eat’, which reached 14 141 people via a webcast, and nutrition education, as well as seven symposia. We also shared our learning through 54 articles and 10 conference presentations.
We believe it’s critical to share our latest research with healthcare professionals and keep them updated on nutritional advances. We work with several renowned international universities to help create and disseminate pediatric nutrition-specific programs to help healthcare professionals keep their pediatric nutritional knowledge up to date. These are as follows:
- Post Graduate Program in Pediatric Nutrition (PGPN), Boston University School of Medicine, USA.
- International Program on Preterm Nutrition (IPPN), University of Western Australia.
- Early Nutrition Specialist (ENS) program, Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.
In 2018, these three programs reached more than 7700 healthcare professionals in 82 countries, with over 90% completing the courses. Feedback was very positive: the PGPN was rated excellent to good by 98.2% of participants, the IPPN by 98% and for ENS, 97.1% rated strongly agree to agree regarding their satisfaction with the course.
This course did not help me understand the dietary requirements and assessment in children only; it has helped me understand my role as a healthcare provider in ensuring that parents understand the importance of early nutrition and health outcomes, the role of nutrition in optimal growth and immunity, management of cow’s milk protein allergy in children, prevention of malnutrition and management of diarrhea. I am forever grateful.Online course feedback from healthcare professional, South Africa
Through these programs, we aim to strengthen the knowledge of healthcare professionals and achieve part of our purpose: to contribute to a healthier future.
The findings from the United States FITS 2016 study into children’s diets
In 2002, our brand Gerber began an ambitious task: to learn more about the diets of children in the US. Called the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS), it is one of the largest studies in the US focused on what infants, toddlers and preschoolers eat. The study is now conducted by Nestlé Research in Lausanne, Switzerland, in collaboration with a team of leading independent pediatric experts and nutrition scientists – from academic, medical, government and research institutions.
Some results from the US FITS 2016 study were recently published in the Journal of Nutrition. It found that:
- Over a quarter of young children in the US do not consume a single discrete serving of vegetables on a given day, and those that do often have fried potatoes as their daily portion of vegetables.
- More infants (6–11.9 months old) are falling short on iron than at any other time in the study’s history. Iron is a critical nutrient for learning ability and brain development.
These findings are critical to understanding nutrition in the US today and to help policymakers explore the role of iron-fortified cereals, infant formulas and baby-food meats in the effort to improve nutrient intakes.
How the FITS and Kids Nutrition and Health Study (KNHS) enable us to help children in the Philippines
As part of our FITS KNHS study, we carried out research into the diets of children in the Philippines to help understand any nutritional gaps there might be – and how we can address them.
In partnership with The Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, we analyzed data from the national nutrition survey to gain a broader picture of the nutritional needs of Filipino children. We found that there is not enough variety in the diets of Filipino children, with large amounts of refined rice and sweet baked goods and not enough consumption of milk, vegetables, fruits and meats. This particularly affects poorer families, who are more likely to have inadequate diets.
Identifying these nutritional gaps allows us to address them directly through new and renovated products, as well as indirectly, through knowledge sharing.
How potassium-fortified milk powder can help save lives
In China, we worked with leading cardiovascular experts to assess the effectiveness of milk powder fortified with potassium in reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke – among the leading causes of death in the country.
To lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, the WHO recommends consuming less sodium and more potassium. In China, however, dietary intake is often the reverse: too much salt and not enough potassium. This is particularly true among older people. Our study (pdf, 1Mb) showed that by fortifying milk powder with potassium, it’s possible to easily and inexpensively reduce the risk of cardiovascular events among 50–79-year-olds who drink milk regularly.
This study is exciting: it shows we can improve people’s health while saving society an estimated USD 8.41 billion (CHF 8.53 billion) in healthcare costs. We are also reviewing the results of a similar study conducted in Malaysia.
Sharing our findings
In 2018, we published findings on the burden and management of gestational diabetes in Mexico and Italy, highlighting the proportion of pregnancies affected and the increased cost, and shared the findings on Mexico at the World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Brazil.
Supporting healthy aging
Protein plays a critical role in maintaining health and can help healthy aging. Higher protein intake has been positively associated with higher bone mass density, slower rates of bone loss and preservation of muscle mass. However, it is estimated that more than one in three adults aged over 50 are not receiving their minimum daily protein requirements. Many suffer from lack of appetite or are on reduced budgets, and there is often little awareness that protein should be consumed at each meal throughout the day.
To support the growing population of people over 50, Nestlé Health Science BOOST US has launched a multimedia protein education campaign aimed at consumers, retailers and healthcare professionals. The campaign features online facts, tips and articles, an interactive protein calculator that provides daily protein intake estimates, a toolkit for healthcare professionals using the latest science on protein intake and healthy aging, and retail promotional tie-ins with healthy aging themes.