A Decade of Nestlé’s Investment into Healthier Generations in the Region

Nestlé and their Partners from Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina held an online regional conference named „Alliance for a healthier future“

Even more ambitious plans for the future were presented that include a larger number of kids, parents, partners and increasing Nestlé’s investment by 25% in relation to the previous year

Belgrade, October 1st 2020 Nestlé and Partners marked a decade of presence in the region with the „Alliance for a healthier future“ online conference. More than 150 experts in areas of nutrition, health, and education discussed the latest food and health trends in the region, as well as the future of food. The speakers presented the results of Nestlé’s regional project that began from an initial 2.000 children 10 years ago and now includes more than 200.000 children from 1.776 elementary schools in Serbia (ZdravoRastimo project), Croatia (Vrtim Zdravi Film), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (Zdravo!).

Food and health trends were demonstrated through research about the habits and activities of elementary school children, specifically their food intake, diet, physical activity, and the time they spend in front of displays, using electronic devices. The research shows that on average, a third of children have the recommended 5 meals a day and that 1 out of 10 pupils plan their meals. On the other hand, 70% of pupils regularly have breakfast. Around half the children have adequate knowledge about the optimal levels of physical activity daily, but despite the fact, less than 40% of pupils have a minimum of an hour of physical activity daily. Less than 50% of pupils are satisfied with their body weight, and 8 out of 10 children constantly or periodically think about their weight.

„The results say that a pandemic of physical (in)activity is present in the countries of the region, that in the last 5 years we are seeing an increase in children that spend much more time in front of screens than it is recommended and that there is an increase in the dissatisfaction with physical appearance among the children. Therefore it is necessary to continue with the education of not only children but their parents and individuals in their schools as well, so that we may influence positive trends“, said Aleksandar Medarević, an associate at the Institute of public health of Serbia „Dr. Milan Jovanović Batut“.

Regarding the future of nutrition, Nestlé emphasised that providing help to parents and guardians in guiding their children towards healthier habits and adapting the assortment of products towards global trends is of the utmost importance. „People are looking for a better balance in their choice of groceries, especially those of plant-based origins. Having in mind that the natural resources are in jeopardy, we need to think about a sustainable system of food, including the entire chain of production. Without a healthy environment, there is no healthy food. Science and new technologies will help us along that way and provide us with optimal methods for food production“, said MSc. nutr. Koraljka Novina Brkić, Nestlé Adriatic.

One of the subjects of the conference was the problem of obesity in children and the need for a multidisciplinary approach to health. „ Almost a third of children in Europe has excess weight and the situation in the region is similar. Having in mind that a child is not responsible for its health or nutritional status, but rather its parents and the whole society both on a local and global level, there is a constant need to work on creating a motivational environment“, said Dr.sc. Tena Niseteo, the President of the Croatian Association of Nutritionists.

President of the European Association for Children’s Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Prof. Dr. sc. Sanja Kolaček talked about how the structure of illnesses change and what factors influence health. “The first 10 years of a child’s life are crucial because during that period numerous factors such as nutrition, physical activity, and pollution can influence the later development of autoimmune, cardiovascular and other diseases. If we truly want to change something, we need to od that in the first 10 years and that needs the support of a team of experts and the wider community. Only a persistent team approach can make a difference”, said Kolalček.

At the end of the conference moderated by Prof. Dr. sc. Darija Vranešić-Bender, the speakers agreed that the role of parents, the cooperation of the private and public sector, and educating peers are crucial for raising healthier generations. Having that in mind, Nestlé announced even more ambitious plans for the future. „The future of the project relies on increasing the number of participating children and parents, increasing investments by 25% in relation to the previous year, the continued cooperation with our partners and teaming up with other national programs with a goal of creating healthier habits in children“, said Neli Angelova, Director of Communications for Southeastern European market, who also called all sides to act together.

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