Nestlé launched the Nestlé for Healthier Kids Programme in Hong Kong in 2017. In this interview, May Chung, General Manager, Nestlé Hong Kong Limited, explains the why and how of a global programme helping children lead healthier lives while creating value for the business.
Could you describe how this programme rolled out and whether you involved local partners?
Nestlé is a “Good food, Good life” company, and our purpose is to unlock the power of food to enhance quality of life for everyone, today and for generations to come. To live up to this purpose, we have laid down three global 2030 ambitions, one of which focuses on individuals and families: to help 50 million children lead healthier lives. The Nestlé for Healthier Kids Programme worldwide brings together all our efforts to support parents and caregivers on their journey to raise healthier kids.
The first Nestlé for Healthier Kids Programme in Hong Kong was launched in 2017 and ran for three years. We partnered with the Centre for Health Education and Health Promotion (CHEHP) of the Chinese University of Hong Kong to collaborate with six primary schools. Together, we organised a wide variety of educational activities around healthy diets and active lifestyles, for over 500 primary school students across their critical growth period from primary four to primary six. Teachers and parents of these students were also engaged for joint efforts to nurture healthier kids.
What results has the programme achieved so far on kid’s health?
In addition to the education activities, CHEHP also conducted annual health surveys and fitness tests to gather a baseline, interim and final assessment of the student’s health to measure the effectiveness of the programme, which concluded last year. We are delighted to observe a significant improvement in the students’ dietary and health habits.
For example, the results showed that after experiencing different activities of the programme, the number of students who consumed daily a sufficient level of vegetables and fruits as recommended by the Department of Health, showed a statistically significant increase in the second year of the programme. Over 45% of the students consumed at least two portions of vegetables and over 70% consumed at least two portions of fruits. As for physical activity, the survey showed a significantly higher proportion of students doing at least 60-min moderate to vigorous intensity activities for 3 to 6 days, reaching 45.7% in the second year. These are encouraging results for us as it reflects how the various school-based education activities lead to enhanced students’ health, and healthier habits, which creates Shared Value for our society.
The launch of the Nestlé for Healthier Kids Programme in 2017 in Hong Kong. Photo credit: Nestlé Hong Kong Ltd
Creating Shared Value is about translating societal issues into business opportunities. What business opportunities has the Healthier Kids Programme brought to Nestlé?
The programme provides nutrition education through school activities. In this way, we help children and parents make healthy food choices and establish long-term healthy lifestyles. In the meantime, we are accelerating the transformation of our product portfolio to ensure our brands support those healthier lifestyles and meet today’s nutritional needs. For example, we launch more nutritious foods and beverages to meet children’s nutritional needs by reducing salt, sugar and saturated fat. In Hong Kong, our Nestlé® Dairy Farm® yoghurt cups fulfill our internal nutrition criteria as well as the EU Pledge, and can be a nutritious snack for kids to choose occasionally. By matching our product portfolio with children’s nutrition needs, we can help children lead healthier lives while creating value for our business.
Has this programme helped Nestlé to strengthen the link with the community?
Through the 3-year implementation of the programme, Nestlé Hong Kong has created strong connections with our community stakeholders, including CHEHP, schools and teachers. We all share a common goal to raise children with healthier eating and lifestyle habits. We work together with our stakeholders and partners to inspire caregivers with supportive activities and services, strengthening our role as a trusted partner for nurturing healthy kids.
The Nestlé for Healthier Kids Programme promotes healthy habits, as regular physical activity. Photo credit: Nestlé Hong Kong Ltd
The Nestlé for Healthier Kids Programme is a global initiative. What is specific to Hong Kong?
Our worldwide Nestlé for Healthier Kids Programme shares the same ambition to help children lead healthier lives. But the nutritional needs and lifestyles of children do vary from country to country and according to different societal backgrounds. The Hong Kong programme was designed to cater for the specific needs of our local children. That is why the CHEHP kept track of the lifestyle habits and physical fitness of the participating students across their growth stages. By doing so, we can understand the actual needs of Hong Kong kids and adjust the programme accordingly.
Did you make some adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
During the pandemic, ongoing school closure did pose challenges to our implementation of the programme, given the suspension of face-to-face school activities. However, CHEHP managed to explore new approaches to carry on the interactions with the students under the new normal. For example, CHEHP introduced online resources with exercise suggestions to encourage students to stay active during home-schooling.
Looking into the future, as students and parents adapt to remote learning in the digital era, we will work with CHEHP to develop more online educational materials and make effective use of online resources to foster healthier lifestyle and ensure a sustainable development of the programme.
What are the next steps? Why?
In view of the positive results from the 2017-2020 programme, Nestlé Hong Kong and CHEHP are happy to renew the partnership for the second Nestlé for Healthier Kids Programme in the upcoming three years, hoping to enhance the nutrition and health of more students.
The programme will expand its footprint to 10 primary schools from which around 800 primary four students, as well as their parents and teachers, will participate. CHEHP will also continue to organise a wide variety of school-based and community activities and accelerate the interaction with participants via strengthened online engagements. We hope to provide them with health education on nutrition and exercise, thereby improving their knowledge, nutrition and health, and fostering lifestyles leading to life-long wellness.
We will also explore cross-over activities with more partners including but not limited to our brands to further promote healthy diets and active lifestyles, to make the programme more comprehensive and support parents and caregivers on their journey to nurture healthier kids.
About May Chung
May Chung is the General Manager of Nestlé Hong Kong, leading the businesses in Hong Kong and Macau region. May has comprehensive experiences in Consumer Goods Industry. She has been actively contributing to the industry. She is currently the Vice Chairlady of GS1 Hong Kong as well as Chairlady of its Food & Beverage Industry Advisory Board, supporting the organisation in advocating various industry-related initiatives.