December 17, 2014

By Aye P Ubaldo


pic-1It’s a serious problem, and it’s about time something is being done about.  The problem is undernourishment, and United for Healthier Kids is that something.  In the age of digital and shortcuts, that’s U4HK, and the brains behind it, is Nestlé Philippines.

“There is nothing more important to the future than the health of our children,” said John Miller, Nestlé Philippines CEO, at the event at the Rockwell Tent on December 11.  Miller is pertaining to the Philippine situation where 30 percent of Filipino children aged 4-12 are under-nourished according to the 2013 National Nutrition survey.

It snowballs from there.  Under-nourishment can lead to growth stunting, which then hinders physical and mental development.  Under-nourished children are prone to develop health problems straight into adulthood, acquiring complications like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.  Add obesity to add, why not.

pic-2Enter U4HK, which is Nestlé Philippines’s manner of meeting the challenge.  U4HK starts with Filipino families, communicating the proper ways of adopting a healthier lifestyle.  The campaign leads all the way to educating the public on health and nutrition.

According to Sandra Puno, Nestlé Philippines Director of Communications, U4HK embodies the key principle that all children have the right to be properly nourished in order to reach their full potential and stake their claim to a brighter future.

“U4HK recognizes that right has to be fulfilled. The responsibility lies in each of us.  U4HK seeks to put the spotlights on the role of parents, that it is their responsibility to nourish their children right,” said Puno.

Quoting an African proverb: It takes a village to raise a child, Nestlé needed partners with the same vision, willing to support the U4HK.  Partners include, the Food & Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, Ogilvy & Mather, and production and events groups.

Prior to the launch, Nestlé already ran TVCs reaching 15m mothers all over the country. They also took the campaign onto Facebook, and uploaded videos, accumulating 140 thousand fans, and about 1 million video views.  Efforts include a caravan that hit 24 barangays nationwide in just 3 weeks.

“To our amazement, Filipino mothers shared 50 thousand photos in 7 weeks.  This is proof that mothers believe in the power of good nutrition, and many of them are ready to help bring U4HK to life,” Puno shared.

Puno also announced how, with the use of art and technology, they combined a number of features to create Faces of the Future as symbols U4HK.  The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has minted commemorative coins for the project.

For U4HK to succeed, it would need the buy-in of parents.  Getting parents actively engaged in the project, going out of their way to give their children proper nutrition to address the problem of under-nutrition is the goal.

“We invite you to join U4HK and bring to life our children’s dreams.  Remember, when we nourish a child give them a chance to develop, the chance to grow, to be energetic enough to pursue a dream.  When we nourish a child, we nourish not just his body, but also his mind.  We nourish his future, and that of our nation,” stressed Puno.

Already, U4HK has a lot of big name fans and supporters.  Said ABS-CBN Chief CEO Charo Santos-Concio, “There is no such thing as a small step. This will undoubtedly have an effect in ensuring a healthier Philippines.  Nestlé is leading the way in getting the info out that quality, and not quantity, of food is important.  ABS-CBN takes this as opportunity to help.”

“ABS-CBN is in the service of the Filipino people.  Our network has the privilege to be welcomed in every Filipino home everyday.  We will take it as an opportunity to help promote a healthier Filipino lifestyle,” Santos-Concio added.

All the way from France, Benoit de Fleurian, Head of Integrated, Global Brands Management of Ogilvy & Mather Paris was at the event.   “I am United because I believe this project breaks new ground in the much needed fight against undernourishment.  It’s an unprecedented mix of science and creativity.  It’s brave and ambitious.  I just felt I needed to be part of it,” said de Fleurian.

With U4HK all over the internet, no less than Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook was quoted saying, “Facebook is proud to join as a partner and support a global conversation around food and nutrition.”

How do we make nutrition easier to understand and actionable by parents and children?  For starters, there are the Facebook page and the website www.u4hk.

U4HK is a colossal undertaking, but there is a plan, and it is sound.  Next steps include food economics: Its availability, affordability and cultural acceptability. After the information dissemination phase, this is where the science of food and nutrition will next focus.


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