Better nutrition may lead to a better life. ‘In-house research under the name SouthEast Asia Nutrition Survey (SEANUTS) has shown that many children in Asia have a deficiency of vitamin D, which seems to be almost impossible in a tropical climate with the sun shining every day and plenty of vitamin D available’, says Hendro Poedjono, Director Corporate Affairs at FrieslandCampina Consumer Products Asia in Singapore.
The vitamin deficiency appears to be the consequence of a changing lifestyle of the children. Just like in the rest of the world, children in Southeast Asia tend to stay comfortably at home. This was the result of a large-scale study into eating habits which FrieslandCampina conducted among as many as 16,000 children in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia a few years ago. This study, SEANUTS, was the first nutritional study ever conducted in this region. According to SEANUTS, about 70 percent of the children in Southeast Asia has a deficiency of iron, calcium and important vitamins, such as vitamins A, C and D. A direct result from the study among children of between six months and twelve years old is the Drink.Move.BeStrong campaign. This campaign was launched in cooperation with governments, businesses, schools and parents and stimulates children to eat healthily and to take good exercise.
In order to incite these children to take more exercise and to pursue a more active lifestyle, various initiatives were initiated under the Drink.Move.BeStrong-programme. For example, FrieslandCampina joined forces with the Junior NBA basketball organisation and started school milk projects combined with provision of information about healthy nutrition. In a period of two years, 71 million children and parents have been reached.
The campaign is successful and it has been awarded with various (local) prizes. Governments and companies in the food industry acknowledge that FrieslandCampina is playing a major part in this. ‘For instance, the amount of sugar in our products has been substantially reduced and we are very transparent about the contents of our products’, says Hendro. ‘We want to make healthier food more accessible for larger groups of people. We take our responsibility in this.’
Eating more consciously and a healthier lifestyle
This is not always easy because of fixed living and eating habits.’ Hendro is aware that it takes a lot of patience, but changes are slowly taking place. ‘The number of Asian people eating more consciously and living more healthily is steadily growing.’
Children who appeared to have a deficiency of vitamin D during the study are now more often found outside spurred on by various sports initiatives and they can make good use of the local FrieslandCampina products enriched with extra vitamin D.
‘Healthy nutrition combined with a healthy lifestyle leads to a better life.’