… These initiatives are changing the narratives
Khadija Ibrahim, a fifth grader at Wesley School Sagamu, Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria, possesses a comprehensive understanding of the benefits of maintaining a healthy diet and is familiar with several aspects of nutrition.
“I’m glad I have the groundwork to make smarter, healthier decisions about my diet and lifestyle,” says an enthusiastic Khadija who came first in the Nestle for Healthier Kids Nutrition Competition.
The triumphant pupil raves about the premium on “good nutrition and healthy lifestyles.”
“I am enthusiastic about possessing the knowledge and understanding to facilitate informed decision-making around nutrition and lifecycle choices.”
She expresses a sense of contentment by eliciting feelings of pride in both her parents and teachers.
Aiming For Healthier Children
Khadija is only one of the 32,000 children in Nigeria who have benefited from the Nestle for Healthier Kids (N4HK) initiative, which is the flagship program of Nestle and seeks to assist 50 million children worldwide in leading healthier lives by the year 2030.
Through N4HK, which reaches thousands of public schools annually, the initiative helps the corporation fulfil its commitment to promoting healthy eating by making more people aware of its benefits.
Thanks to the project, young primary pupils such as Khadija Ibrahim are showing enhanced decision-making regarding nutrition and adopting a healthier lifestyle!
“The objective is to lay the foundation to help children make informed nutrition and lifecycle choices for a healthier future,” says Victoria Uwadoka, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager at Nestle Nigeria,
‘New sets of children are reached annually, and we ensure consistent supervision and audit of the programme to maintain delivery quality. The educator’s and learners’ manuals are revised as the latest information and new data become available to keep the programme relevant.”
The Nutrition Society of Nigeria, the program’s technical partner, devised the curriculum while teachers deliver in-class teaching, practical food displays, and physical exercise.
The Ogun State Universal Basic Education Board and the Federal Ministry of Education are also involved in the project as partners.
The programme has shown to be advantageous not just for the children but also for the teachers.
Madam Ganiyat Odulele, Khadija’s teacher, adds, “The annual teachers’ training has equipped us with relevant healthy lifestyles information that we also implement in our homes.”
Jokototade Agbatiogun, the Director of Social Mobilisation at the Ogun State Universal Primary Education Board, underscores the project’s significance in ensuring that children receive adequate nourishment for improved well-being and are empowered to make informed choices regarding their nutrition.
“We can see the impact on the children,” the Director asserts.
The Nutrition Society of Nigeria values its collaboration with Nestlé Nigeria to address the demand for nutrition education in childhood.
“The Nestlé for Healthier Kids (N4HK) program helps to establish a good foundation for healthy eating habits and provides nutritional knowledge that a child can apply throughout life, “says Major Edith Nwachinemerem (Rtd), Chair NSN Federal Capital Territory Chapter.
“I am delighted with the children’s performance through the various stages of the competition and applaud the winning schools for a job well done.”
Dealing with Dietary Deficiencies
There is an increasing acknowledgement of the necessity to establish a conducive food environment that facilitates individuals adopting and sustaining good dietary behaviours.
The World Health Organization warns that an unhealthy diet and insufficient physical activity are significant global health hazards.
“Consuming a healthy diet throughout the life course helps prevent malnutrition in all its forms as well as a range of noncommunicable diseases,” it notes.
“Malnutrition, in all its forms, includes undernutrition (wasting, stunting, underweight), inadequate vitamins or minerals, overweight, obesity and resulting diet-related noncommunicable diseases.”
The effects of the worldwide burden of malnutrition on human growth and development, the economy, and society are profound.
Global data from 2020 show about 149 million children under the age of 5 stunted, showing a deficiency in height relative to their age. About 45% of mortality cases in the demographic of children aged below 5 years are associated with the condition of undernutrition.
Approximately 1.9 billion adults exhibit signs of being overweight, while a staggering 462 million individuals are underweight.
Anaemia, a significant worldwide public health issue that impacts 269 million children and 571 million women, according to the Global Health Repository, is prevalent in low- and middle-income nations such as Nigeria.
Innovative Take on An Old Problem
The latest offering from Nestle Nigeria, Nido Milk & Soya Instant Powder Mix is a unique contribution which aims to mitigate the prevalence of micronutrient insufficiency in Nigeria, particularly iron deficiency.
“This unique blend of filled milk and soya is a source of Iron and has other essential nutrients including Protein, Calcium, Vitamin C, and dietary fibre, which supports digestion, “reveals Ifeanyi Orabuche, the Category & Marketing Manager, Dairy,
“Nido Milk & Soya is our first affordable fortified dairy and plant blend in the Nigerian market.”
For over six decades, Nestlé has played a significant role in the dietary intake of many homes in Nigeria, all in the name of improving people’s lives via better food.
Aurent Alsteens, the Global Category Head for Early Childhood Nutrition at Nestlé, affirms the company’s commitment to further expanding its range of nutritious and palatable products that serve as a suitable addition to the daily dietary intake of children and their families.
“Through combining the goodness of dairy and plant ingredients, we can deliver a new flavour experience with nutritional benefits,” he says, reiterating the company’s commitment to sustainable and nutritious diets.
The cultivation of public consciousness regarding the significance of optimal nutrition and the adoption of health-promoting lifestyle decisions is of paramount importance for the overall welfare of society.
Herein lies the role of the media. Nestlé Nigeria and the Lagos Business School collaborate to organize the ‘Advancing Nutrition, Health and Wellness’ (NHW) training.
Nestle Nigeria’s Corporate Communications Manager stresses that training equips journalists with the tools to provide accurate information to their audiences and consumers, enabling them to make informed decisions regarding nutrition and lifestyle, ultimately promoting a healthier way of life.
Professor Chris Ogbechie, Dean of the Lagos Business School, provides additional insight into the driving force behind the effort.
“Building the capacity of the media is key to Nigeria’s achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG3 – good health and well-being, he says.
‘So, Lagos Business School and Nestle Nigeria developed the Advancing NHW through the Media program to harness the media’s impact through professional and innovative reporting on Nutrition and Health and Wellness issues.”
He applauds Nestlé’s commitment to empowering journalists with accurate information and helpful reporting skills. “We are honoured to be part of this partnership to foster a healthier and more sustainable future for all Nigerians. ”
Beneficiaries have welcomed an opportune intervention of Nestlé and LBS to empower them to carry out the crucial function.
Expanding Nutrition Offerings
Nestle, which ranks first on the Global Access to Nutrition Index, Nestle has committed to continue growing the most nutritious portion of its range and educating consumers about the need to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
The Global Access to Nutrition Index prides itself as ‘the only independent assessment of the extent to which the world’s biggest food and beverage manufacturers contribute to addressing malnutrition in all its forms: overweight /obesity, undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.’
The scoring and ranking system evaluates organisations’ nutrition-related commitments, policies, practices, and disclosure in seven categories: governance, products, accessibility, marketing, lifestyle labelling, and participation.
The evaluation also included an assessment of the nutritional quality of companies’ product portfolios using the Health Star Rating (HSR) approach.
In 2021, Nestle secured the top spot with a 6.7 out of 10 score. The organisation placed first on Governance and Engagement and in the top three across other Index categories.
“Our priority is to grow our portfolio segments with a Health Star Rating (HSR) ≥ 3.5 and Specialised Nutrition. We have set a new and ambitious target to grow the sales of more nutritious products by CHF 20-25 billion by 2030, representing about 50% growth over 2022 sales, ” declares the Swiss multinational food and drink processing group.
“We will deliver on our priority through three main actions: Continue to invest in R&D to innovate and renovate our products, including through micronutrient fortification and expanding our affordable, plant-based and nutrition offerings, notably for children and healthy ageing.”