Nestlé has joined scientific and public health experts in calling for the creation of more community-based programmes to prevent childhood obesity.
The company is taking part in the Global Obesity Forum in New York to discuss evidence suggesting multi-stakeholder collaborations promoting healthy nutrition and physical activity are among the most successful ways to address the issue.
The event aims to provide international stakeholders committed to the prevention of childhood obesity with an important opportunity to share knowledge and best practices.
It is the first major forum organised by the EPODE International Network (EIN), the world’s largest obesity prevention network.
All members of the EIN - which connects community-based obesity prevention programmes in 25 countries including Australia, Brazil, Chile and Poland - will be represented at the forum.
The network’s goal is to support 40 large-scale community-based programmes on five continents by 2015.
“Childhood obesity is a complex problem driven by multiple social, economic and environmental factors,” said Janet Voûte, Nestlé’s Global Head of Public Affairs.
“If we are to tackle this major public health issue effectively we need a multi-sector response and Nestlé firmly believes industry has a vital role to play in this.
“We are convinced the best way to leverage our capabilities and expertise is by working in partnership with other organisations to help promote healthy nutrition and physical activity through community-based programmes.
Government officials from a number of countries will attend the forum, along with representatives from leading institutions including the United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Trust for America’s Health.
Experts from a variety of fields including genetics, behavioural science, economics, and politics will also participate.
If we are to tackle this major public health issue effectively we need a multi-sector response and Nestlé firmly believes industry has a vital role to play in this.Janet Voûte, Nestlé’s Global Head of Public Affairs.
EPODE stands for ‘Ensemble, Prévenons l’Obésité Des Enfants’ (Together, Let’s Prevent Childhood Obesity).
The original EPODE pilot programme began in France in 1992 with the aim of preventing children from becoming overweight by changing their eating habits and lifestyle patterns at an early age.
It emphasises the introduction of varied foods into children’s diets, greater physical activity, and the involvement of families and wider society in obesity prevention efforts from the outset.
Healthy Kids programme
Nestlé supported the first French pilot programme in1992. The company is now a founding partner of the EIN.
The company has built on its work with EPODE and its other existing partnerships to create the Nestlé Healthy Kids programme.
The global initiative is based on multi-partner approaches. It promotes nutrition education, a balanced diet, greater physical activity and a healthy lifestyle for school age children.
Nestlé works together with a number of national ministries of health and education, local governments, nutrition institutes and national sport federations to develop Healthy Kids programmes in more than 60 countries.
Globally, the Healthy Kids initiative directly reached a total of six million children in 2011.
Healthy Steps for Healthy Lives
Nestlé recently announced the continuation of its partnership with the National Education Association (NEA) in the United States.
Free education material will be given to school age children as part of the collaboration.
Nestlé is also releasing a new version of its nutrition education programme Healthy Steps for Healthy Lives, which is part of the Nestlé Healthy Kids programme.
Healthy Steps for Healthy Lives provides teachers with a variety of fun, easy-to-use instructional activities to teach students about nutrition and physical activity.
The NEA is the largest teacher’s union in the United States with over three million members.