Nestle expanding research on child health and nutrition

by Eric Schroeder
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VEVEY, SWITZERLAND — The research effort is on at Nestle S.A. The Vevey-based company earlier this week said it will expand its research on child health and nutrition to 10 countries, including the United States, China and Mexico, by the end of 2016.

The research consists of two ongoing studies being conducted by Nestle: the Kids Nutrition and Health Study (KNHS) and Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS). According to Nestle, the studies provide snapshots of eating patterns, nutrient intakes, child lifestyle and behavioral factors, and healthy weight indicators of children up to 12 years of age.

“Nestle will rely on FITS and KNHS learnings to continually improve the nutritional profiles of our products that address unmet nutritional needs, as well as communications, programs and services to inform health care providers, parents and caregivers” said Timothy A. Morck, vice-president of scientific and regulatory affairs at Nestle USA.

Nestle already has found ways to use findings from the studies to guide its work on health and nutrition. The company said findings from FITS led it to adjust the composition of Gerber Graduates meals in the United States to address a lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet.

Meanwhile, findings from KNHS found skipping lunch is a common practice among children and adolescents in the United States, leading them to have lower intakes of nutrients, including calcium and fiber, than others their own age who ate lunch. The data also showed that for some children, the lunch meal was primarily responsible for the higher essential nutrient intakes of vitamin D, potassium and magnesium, as well as a nutrient of concern, sodium.

“We were concerned to see lunch skipping happening all week long and even more so on the weekends, with the largest group of skippers being girls 9-13 years of age,” said Kevin Mathias, Ph.D., and scientists at the Nestle Research Center. “Lunch skippers are missing out on some key nutrients essential for growth and development. This study highlights an opportunity for both government and the food industry to develop new strategies to encourage children and adolescents to consume a healthy lunch.”
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