Today in Hungary the rate of cardiovascular diseases is extremely high and diabetes also becoming more common. Many people are overweight or obese – and the problems begin in childhood. Nestlé Hungária’s dietary intake study conducted earlier this year on the dietary habits of Hungarian children found that children aged 4 to 10 eat less than the recommended amount of vegetables, fruit, dairy products and whole grains, while consuming more fat and salt than necessary. These poor dietary patterns, often adopted from parents, can contribute to the development of the above-mentioned diseases with age.
As one of Hungary’s leading food companies, Nestlé Hungária is committed to working with industry and health organizations to improve dietary and lifestyle habits of the Hungarian population, with a particular focus on children.
But what exactly is Nestlé doing?
We reformulate and analyse all our products with the help of a nutritional profiling system, which is a science driven way to make our products more nutritious. Our aim is to help consumers meet national and international nutritional recommendations for salt, added sugar and saturated fat intake.
To give a concrete example, we have reduced the sugar content in many of our products in recent years; for example, in the case of SMARTIES hollow chocolates, the reduction in 2019 was 8%.
When developing our products, we also pay attention to our adult consumers, which is why we have made significant changes to our product portfolio since 2017. Over that period, we have reduced the sodium content of our products portfolio by 3.5%, which is equivalent to the removal of 13 tonnes of salt. In Hungary, we used 181.7 tonnes less added sugar, which also corresponds to a reduction of 3.5% for the entire portfolio and for this period. Since 2017 our products have been 100% compliant with the dietary recommendations for saturated fatty acids.
The cause of behind the increase of special dietary and consumer needs is partly due to the negative effects of civilisation and partly to the rise in environmental awareness, to which we respond with targeted product development. We produce more and more dairy and gluten-free products, but our range also includes organic and plant-based examples, as well as products with higher fiber content. Our over 50 years of protein research has also resulted in a growing range of foods for special medical purposes.
Besides scientific developments, we also pay attention to providing information and education
Beyond the compulsory regulations, at Nestlé we provide detailed nutrition information panels, portion- and balanced eating guidance on relevant packs, to help our consumers in making healthier choices.
Our educational initiatives, a considerable part of which concerns children, are also an integral part of providing information. They have been implemented since 2018 as part of our global Nestlé for Healthier Kids program, launched at that time, to empower parents, caregivers, and teachers to foster healthy behaviours in children. Starting in 2015, in cooperation with the Hungarian Dietetic Association, we ran the GYERE® program for 5 years, involving more than 5,200 Hungarian children under 18, along with their caregivers and teachers.
This year we have launched two new educational programs for primary school children. Our educational program called Smart Snack uses smart cards to educate children about balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Through the program implemented in the form of after-school activities, we seek to address as many school-age children as possible in the coming years. Our second program, Feed Your Mind, is a playful way for children to learn about healthy and sustainable lifestyle through online and offline activities.
Within the „Start Healthy, Stay Healthy” program we educate Hungarian paediatricians and midwives about the importance of the first 1000 days of life, furthermore we have created a knowledge base of nearly 300 articles for pregnant moms on the Nestlé Baby&me platform. The latter goes beyond infant feeding to provide a full range of support for pregnant women and parents.
At Nestlé we unlock the power of food to enhance quality of life for everyone, today and for generations to come. We believe food does not only have to deliver great taste and high quality, but it must have a favourable composition and nutritional value, which sets a definite direction for our product development.