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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nestle: the McDonalds of baby foods!

PhD in Parenting writes about the fact that Nestle and the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) have jumped into bed together and are trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the citizens of the States. What drives me nuts is that the average joe blow actually BELIEVES that Nestle is doing this out of the goodness of their heart and not for material gain.  Yes, that's right sheeple:  Nestle is a fuzzy warm hearted company that is only looking out for the good of you and your family, they would never do ANYTHING to lead you astray.

HEALTHY ACTIVE LIVING FOR FAMILIES (HALF): RIGHT FROM THE START is a program of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). It is sponsored through the generous support of the Nestlé Nutrition Institute (NNI). The goal of the HALF project is to develop and test a series of positive, family-focused messages specific to obesity prevention and care for the following developmental stages: infancy, toddlerhood, and early childhood/preschoolers, which can be used at pediatric well-child visits. These messages and materials will be unique from those already in existence because they will be crafted using the medical home framework, a developmental approach to children’s care, and parent-tested.

 HERE to read the original press release

"sponsored through the generous support of the Nestlé Nutrition Institute (NNI)".....are they kidding?  They actually expect us to take them seriously- believe that the AAP really cares about the health of our children by accepting blood money from NESTLE?!  Nestle?....... The most boycotted company in the world, the company that had done the most amount of harm to infants and young children through unethical promotion of it's infant formulas and deliberate sabotage of breastfeeding mothers world wide?  The company that has created a mega food conglomerate that has cornered several markets and saturated them with products that are simply unfit for human consumption, or at least: unfit for healthy consumption.  To make matters even worse, Nestle, and it's sister company Gerber, manufacturer baby formula (which I'm not even going to get into here) and baby & toddler foods, foods that they are trying to market as healthy:

GRADUATES LIL’ ENTRÉES* are nutritious mealtime combinations in one convenient ready-to-serve tray for your toddler. They are as delicious as they are nutritious, carefully cooked for just the right taste and texture. Each LIL' ENTRÉE contains a full serving of veggies. Plus, there are no added preservatives or artificial flavours. Each entrée provides protein, vitamins and minerals.

 ...the also contain enough salt to stop the charge of a stampeding rhino.  Really. Let's look at what Nestle/Gerber calls "Nutritious" and make some comparisons.... just to put it into perspective

GERBER® GRADUATES™ LIL' ENTREES™ Chicken & Pasta Wheel Pick-Ups in Sauce with Peas
GERBER® GRADUATES™ LIL' ENTRÉES™ Chicken & Pasta Wheel Pick-Ups in Sauce with Peas gives your toddler a full serving of vegetables and is made with white chicken meat and wholesome pasta. It has no added preservatives or artificial flavours and is a good source of iron – helping your toddler grow with every nutritious bite.
 The chicken and pasta wheel meal also contains 550mg of sodium- McDonalds large fries contains 430 mgs of sodium.

GERBER® GRADUATES™ LIL' ENTRÉES™ Pasta Stars in Meat Sauce with Green Beans
contains 4.5 mg of fat and 400mg of sodium- almost as much fat  and over twice as much sodium as a KFC drumstick!!

....yea, they are making products that are just soooooooo healthy for your children.

PhD in Parenting comments:
Healthy Active Living Initiative.  According to the news release:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), with support from the Nestlé Nutrition Institute, has established the Healthy Active Living for Families (HALF) Project to help identify and develop patient and family educational tools and materials. The materials will be specific to obesity prevention and care targeted to the following developmental stages: infancy, toddlerhood, and early childhood/preschoolers. These unique materials will be scientifically validated and crafted using a developmental approach to children’s care, with special attention on creating culturally appropriate materials and incorporating plain language to make it easy for all families to understand best health practices.
The press release also provides data from a Nestlé study on feeding of infants and toddlers that was conducted in 2002 and 2008:
Last year, the 2008 FITS data revealed that toddlers and preschoolers in particular had diets high in saturated fat and sodium, and lacking in fruits, vegetables, and fiber. The researchers noted that caregivers have made significant improvement in infant feeding compared to the first FITS study in 2002, but may need more guidance and diligence to improve the diets of toddlers and preschoolers who are mirroring the often unhealthy eating patterns of American adults.
The press release is full of language underscoring the unhealthy food and lifestyle habits of American families, but interestingly no criticism of the processed food industry. Instead, the press release talks about how the Nestlé Start Healthy, Stay Healthy™ Nutrition System will help parents raise healthier children and how the “partnership with AAP is truly a natural and cohesive collaboration, as Nestlé research and GERBER® product development focus specifically on the healthy growth and development of children from birth up to age four.”
Sounds great, right?


The problem with this scenario is that Nestlé is one of the companies pushing unhealthy food.

 HERE to read the entire article on PhD in Parenting

As I said at the beginning, I'm rather shocked that the AAP would align itself with a company with such a blackened reputation like Nestle who has a long history of leading people astray.

Or perhaps I should spell that A-S-H-T-R-A-Y.

KELLY D. BROWNELL and KENNETH E. WARNER of Yale University; University of Michigan have written a very interesting paper that compares the food industry with the tobacco industry.  I strongly recommend reading the entire paper as the information is highly relevant to  this topic of childrens health. The paper is long, but I will quote below their final paragraphs:

The Perils of Ignoring History: Big Tobacco Played Dirty and Millions Died. How Similar Is Big Food?

A Question of Priorities
Today 50 Americans will be murdered; 89 will take their own lives;
40 will succumb to HIV/AIDS; and 112 will die from motor vehicle
injuries. This sums to 291 deaths, compared to the 1,200 people who
will die as a result of their smoking. But one act might have saved even
more lives: an honest approach by the industry, one consistent with the
industry’s pledge in the 1954 “Frank Statement” and precisely opposite
the disastrous route it chose to follow (Cummings, Morley, and Hyland
Food industry versions of the “Frank Statement” and its aftermath are
unacceptable. Americans now realize there is a serious problem with the

nation’s diet, physical activity, and weight. There is growing awareness
of who is selling what and to whom they are selling, coupled with
mounting insistence on corporate accountability. A survey of California
residents found that 92 percent believe childhood obesity is a serious
problem. Eighty percent believe it has worsened more than other issues
such as drinking and drug abuse; 65 percent believe that advertising
for food and beverages contributes to the problem in important ways;
64 percent believe that advertising has a big impact on food choices of
young children; and 66 percent feel the best way to solve the problem
is through actions such as changes in school policies and labeling at
fast-food restaurants, rather than leaving matters solely to parents and
children (California Endowment 2003).
In the 1950s, cigarette advertisements claimed, “More doctors smoke
Camel than any other cigarette.” Ronald Reagan was well known for his
endorsement of Chesterfield cigarettes. The world was not then aware
of the havoc that cigarettes could visit on the body. Only recently have
we become truly aware of the catastrophic impact of the modern food
and physical activity environment. Now we must wonder how history
will view Shaquille O’Neal promoting Burger King, Britney Spears
and Beyonc´e Knowles working with Pepsi, and Cedric the Entertainer,
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Serena and Venus Williams, and Donald
Trump all endorsing McDonald’s.
To protect profits, the food industry must avoid perceptions that it
is uncaring and insensitive, ignores public health, preys on children,
intentionally manipulates addictive substances, and knowingly, even
cynically, contributes to death, disability, and billions in health care
costs every year. Stated another way, it cannot afford to look like tobacco.
Whether it is like tobacco is a question of central importance.
The food industry is more complex than tobacco, with scores more
players and thousands more products. Some companies, such as fruit and
vegetable sellers, promote inherently good products, while some like the
candy companies do the opposite. Most companies, especially the major
players such as Nestle, Unilever, and Kraft (the world’s three largest
food companies), do a great deal of both. Such companies have many
ways to leave a better health footprint on the world (reformulating their
products, selling fewer calorie-dense foods and more healthy choices,
curtailing marketing to children, and withdrawing from schools). The
question is whether they will behave in honorable, health-promoting
ways or will sink to the depths occupied by tobacco.
286 K.D. Brownell and K.E. Warner
There are perils for both industry and the population of ignoring
tobacco’s history. The tobacco industry embraced political and public
relations strategies that were effective initially and continue to thwart
needed change, particularly in the developing world. However, the industry’s
deceit, its ostensible but not genuine commitment to public
health, and its manipulation of scientists and politicians created an antitobacco
mentality that swept the United States and opened the door for
legal, public health, and legislative actions that have helped cut smoking
in the United States by more than half.
That such strategies tempt the food industry is not surprising, and in
fact we seemany similarities in the behavior of tobacco and food industry
players (table 1). The food industry playbook suggests maneuvers to
thwart changes that would benefit public health—strategies that may
ultimately be self-defeating. Laying claim to concern for the public while
continuing its destructive practices (e.g., selling calorie-dense foods in
schools and marketing unhealthy foods to children), paying scientists to
do research that helps the industry, funding front groups, using money to
influence professional organizations, failing to rein in trade associations
that distort science and make doubt one of their deliverables, and perhaps
formulating products in ways that maximize their addictive potential
all make industry vulnerable but, most important, hurt the public.
A number of threats lie in the food industry’s future. If the industry
does not make change preemptively, public opinion may turn against
it, as it did against Big Tobacco. The turn may occur more rapidly
with food because of the cynicism bred by tobacco and a general antiindustry
outlook inspired by players such as Enron, Tyco, WorldCom,
and subprime lenders (Vogel 1989). Litigation could be one source of
shifting opinion, with addiction potentially a looming target. Whether
food companies are ever found responsible for health damages may be
less important than the disclosure of internal documents generated by
the discovery phase of the legal process. Tobacco was seriously wounded
when its tactics became public knowledge. As an example, U.S. District
Judge H. Lee Sarokin said in a 1992 pretrial ruling ordering the tobacco
companies to turn over internal research documents:
All too often in the choice between the physical health of consumers
and the financial well-being of business, concealment is chosen over
disclosure, sales over safety, and money over morality. Who are these
persons who knowingly and secretly decide to put the buying public
The Perils of Ignoring History 287
at risk solely for the purpose of making profits and who believe
that illness and death of consumers is an apparent cost of their own
Above all, the experience of tobacco shows how powerful profits can
be as a motivator, even at the cost of millions of lives and unspeakable
suffering. There is ample indication that giving industry the benefit of
the doubt can be a trap. To avoid this trap, industry must meet clear
expectations, complete with benchmarks and timetables and with an
objective evaluation of the impact of the industry’s actions. Malfeasance
should be addressed swiftly, so that change is made necessary within
weeks or months, not years.
The food industry could make needed changes through voluntary selfregulation,
or the changes could be mandated by regulation or legislation
or prompted by litigation (or some combination of all three). Food
industry players have promised a number of self-regulatory changes,
including pledging to market better foods in schools and to scale back
their marketing to children (Sharma, Teret, and Brownell 2008). Hard
lessons were learned in the tobacco arena when voluntary actions by
industry appeared helpful but were not and served to stall government
action for many years. This reality suggests that the food industry
should be held to a high standard, which includes nonindustrydetermined
benchmarks for success and an objective evaluation of their
impact. Failure to achieve public health goals should trigger mandated
Will the food industry adopt a playbook that promotes public health,
or will its future come to rival tobacco’s past? Certainly there is an
opportunity if the industry chooses to seize it—an opportunity to talk
about the moral high ground and to occupy it.
It has been proven time and again that pressure from the individual and public outcry can bring changes.  I personally think it's time to tell the AAP that we don't appreciate their choice of partners and that choosing to align themselves with a company with the wretched reputation like Nestle only soils their own standing in the publics eye.  Because truly, who can trust any organization that affiliates themselves with Nestle?