Standing true to their commitment, Nestlé Nutrition Institute Middle East launches an educational initiative at a symposium in Luxor titled “The First 1000 Days: Setting the Future.” In partnership with healthcare professionals, the initiative aims to educate Egyptian mothers about the importance and benefits of breastfeeding and its impact on their child’s life forever.
During the opening ceremony of the symposium, Nestlé NEAR CEOMr. Suresh Narayanan, expressed his belief that doctors practice the most important and most valuable occupation in the world, as they save and enhance the condition of human life. The fact that Egypt’s leading pediatricians and nutritionists took time from their valuable schedules to attend the event hosted by Nestlé exemplifies the strong ties the company has with medical healthcare experts.
Mr. Narayanan explained that Nestle was founded on brand values and social values with roots in nutrition, health and wellness that have been consistent in the build-up of time.Ultimately, all of the organization’s social initiatives and causes are interlinked with nutrition, health and wellness.
Mr. Narayanan highlighted that the role of the company is to primarily explore areas of growth, nutrition and scientific technologies in order to improve the lives of children. The issues children in Egypt face are similar to those in other developing countries, whether it is lack of nutrition or lack of hygiene which both result in high infant mortality rate.”In a country like Egypt, Nestlé believes it can bring to the table practices and not just brands; additionally, we do not only host events –we are trying to change the way people view and apply nutrition in their daily diets,” added Mr. Narayanan.
Professor Ferdinand Haschke, Global President of the Nestlé Nutrition Institute, was one of the main speakers at the event, shedding light on the topics of breastfeeding, prevention of under-nutrition, obesity prevention, and allergy prevention.Professor Haschke highlighted that term infants both in developing and developed countries benefit from exclusive breastfeeding; if a woman can breastfeed, then this is the best option for the child. Professor Haschke placed great emphasis on this point, explaining that no formula or substitute can provide benefits of a mother’s breast milk to a child. A large dataset of surveys from 20 developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America (168,000 infants and small children from the Demographic Health Survey, United States Agency for International Development) includes information on feeding type, growth, and health outcome.Compared to other feeding patterns, exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months is associated with significantly higher weight, length, and lower probability of stunting and infections.
With regards to obesity, Professor Haschke said that recent studies illustrate that in some developed countries, overweight/obesity during childhood and adolescence now affects more than 25% of the respective populations. Infants with rapid weight gain after birth have an increased risk to become obese later in life. There is a strong correlation between mother and child from the aspect of obesity – it is hereditary. If mothers are overweight/obese their breastfed infants gain weight more rapidly during the first 6 months than indicated by the WHO standards. This is considered to be a Non Communicable Disease (NCD).
“NCDs, among them the consequences of obesity, type-II diabetes, and cardiovascular events will account for almost 80 per cent of all deaths and negatively influence mortality statistics during the next decades,” said Professor Haschke.
Professor Haschke also explained that the prevalence of allergic diseases and obesity is increasing in most countries. Follow-up until 10 years in a developed country (GINI study) now indicates that an infant population at risk for allergic diseases benefits both from exclusive breastfeeding and, if the breastfeeding period is short from use of hypoallergenic formula during the first 4 months of life. When compared to cow’s milk-based formula: both the cumulative incidences of a topic disease and all allergic diseases are significantly lower.
Ultimately, exclusive breastfeeding is associated with lower morbidity. Clinical trials now prove the preventive effect of breastfeeding and new infant formulas on early childhood obesity and allergy.
“Adults, especially women, must be educated regarding healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices. Education is the key to development and improvement,” concluded Professor Haschke.
The symposium hosted five workshops on various topics ranging from breast feeding, home-made weaning food versus fortified ready-made foods, focusing on the importance of educating mothers about the value of home food, fighting malnutrition among middle income households, cultural habits in infant feeding versus new guidelines and food fortifications versus multivitamin and the importance of practice change. The workshops featured presentations by both international & regional leading experts in the field of pediatrics & pediatric nutrition.
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Dina Abou El-Fetouh