The Nutrition Crisis: How To Make Healthier Options Accessible
By Alan Hoffman, Executive Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs, Herbalife
December 9, 2015
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2014*. Lowering this rate by making healthier options accessible and affordable to more people is key to controlling rising health-care costs and improving quality of life. This was the conclusion of a panel of academics and business leaders, including Herbalife Chairman and CEO Michael Johnson, at the 2015 Milken Institute Global Conference. “The Business of Healthy” panel focused on what business can do to help address this issue and stay relevant in the future.
The Nutrition Crisis
One theme came through loud and clear in many of the sessions during the conference: our society is facing a huge public health issue because of poor nutrition. The lack of education about healthy choices; the lack of access to healthy choices; the lack of affordable healthy choices – these are the underlying causes that everyone agreed have to be tackled if we are to help individuals and communities turn the tide on the nutrition crisis.
Globally, WHO estimates that approximately 2.3 billion adults are overweight and more than 700 million are obese. WHO stats reveal the extent of the global obesity pandemic:
- Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.
- Most of the world’s population lives in countries where illnesses caused by or contributed to by overeating and obesity kill more people than malnutrition.
- 42 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2013.
According to a Gallup survey, “The percentage of U.S. adults who are obese continued to trend upward in 2014, reaching 27.7%, the highest obesity rate Gallup and Healthways have measured in seven years of tracking it.”
The Nutrition Solution
All members of the panel, which included representatives from ‘big food’ companies, health focused NGOs and academia, agreed that there are immediate steps that businesses can take to tackle the nutrition crisis:
- Reduce the fat, sugar and salt content of processed foods.
- Find ways to make healthy and nutritious choices available and affordable to all consumers.
- Reposition healthy choices as being tasty and even ‘cool’ through marketing and education – the Partnership for a Healthier America trialed an exciting new campaign that was aimed at doing just that through the use of celebrities.
- Practice responsible marketing especially for those products aimed at children and teenagers.
- Ensure the availability of healthy food choices and support regular physical activity practice in the workplace.
Business also needs take a lead on the debate with governments, health systems, the medical community – understanding what we can do to help solve the nutrition crisis and equally improving understanding of what they can do to help or incentivize business to do more through taxation, regulation, and investment, for example.
To effect change and address the nutrition crisis, we need a fresh approach that incorporates:
- New distribution methods to bring healthy food to those typically excluded.
- Educating and informing in a way that resonates with the younger generation.
- Investing in new ingredients and foods that address the shortage in nutrients and important components of a healthy diet.
- Finding a way to get the new trends and opportunities for healthier eating to more people, more quickly.
Herbalife is Taking Action
At Herbalife, we are making strides to address many of these challenges and our direct selling distribution model is already pushing the accepted retail model.
We are researching new ingredients and creating nutrition products that serve the consumer of today – convenient, affordable, targeted.
Through our independent Herbalife members, we create a support network at a local community level that encourages, educates and provides access to good nutrition options at an affordable price.
We are partnering with schools and community groups to specifically educate children about the importance of good nutrition as part of a healthy, active life.
Herbalife is investing heavily in its production, testing and distribution capabilities to ensure products of the highest quality in nutritional content are closer to customers.
And we are focused on overcoming the nutrition crisis for individuals – bringing good nutrition to those who otherwise would not have access; helping them to incorporate positive eating habits into their everyday routine; educating them as to what it means to live a healthy, active life; and supporting them as they make significant changes. Nutrition Clubs across the country encourage their consumers to use Herbalife® products daily – known as “daily consumption” – by offering individual servings of Herbalife® products.
“We have a unique ‘last mile’ connection that a lot of people don’t have. We have enthusiastic members talking to people about how they can embrace a healthy, active life. Talking about nutrition, setting fitness goals, making sure a healthy diet is part of their every day eating plan. By making nutrition the center of the conversation, independent Herbalife members can help people reach their goals though encouragement, support and access to healthy, nutritious meals,” said Michael Johnson, Herbalife Chairman and CEO.
*WHO Obesity and Overweight fact sheet (January 2015)