This initiative is called, The Protein Week. It was launched in 2017 and since then, we have partnered with different like-minded organizations such as IDA, PFNDAI, InBody, Arogya World, said Danone Indian MD.
Protein deficiency continues to be a major health concern in India, and according to an IMRB survey, seven out of ten Indians are protein deficient and 93% of Indians remain oblivious to their daily protein requirement. Danone India, in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), has launched the fourth edition of The Protein Week, which is celebrated annually between 24 – 30 July, to raise awareness about the importance of protein, a nutrient which is integral to building immunity. Danone has developed a first-of-its kind Immuno- Nutrient Calculator, which helps people assess the intake of relevant nutrients in their daily diet that support immunity and enables them to take necessary steps to improve their nutrient intake for building immunity. The calculator developed in association with nutrition experts from Fitterfly. It is an easy to use tool, that allows people to take corrective actions in their diet to boost immunity. In an interview with Financial Express Online Himanshu Bakshi, Managing Director, Danone India and Vinita Bali, Chairperson, CII National Committee on Nutrition shared their views. Excerpts:
Could you please share details about this initiative? What is this initiative called?
Himanshu Bakshi: This initiative is called, The Protein Week. It was launched in 2017 and since then, we have partnered with different like-minded organizations such as IDA, PFNDAI, InBody, Arogya World. Through a combination of initiatives and advocacy efforts with partners, Danone India endeavors to inspire more and more people to adopt healthier eating habits. In the past three years, we have sensitized Indians about the importance of Protein and created mass awareness about the role of protein in maintaining good muscle health which is compromised as we age.
Why did you choose to partner with Danone for this initiative?
Vinita Bali: CII works closely with organizations who strive to bring about a positive change in society. The biggest deciding factor in partnering with Danone is their commitment towards addressing public health challenges and the stellar work they have been doing year after year of educating the masses about the role of nutrition in health and well-being.
What is the objective of organising the nation-wide public health awareness initiative?
Himanshu Bakshi: Our objective is to highlight the importance of nutrition, and the role of protein in particular in maintaining good health and an active lifestyle. Protein deficiency is a serious concern in India and over 90% Indians are unaware of their protein requirement IMRB 2017 data. Adequate protein and nutrition intake is the key to strengthening the immune system. As Indians consume largely vegetarian diets, protein sources are limited, hence a conscious & sustained effort is required to improve one’s protein intake and through TPW 2020 we wish to remind Indians about the importance of this nutrient.
The Ministry of Aayush has come up with a list of things which people should consider for building immunity? Is nutrition and protein sufficient for people to build immunity?
Himanshu Bakshi: Immunity is an amalgamation of several factors with nutrition being an important plank. A lifestyle change, health diet, physical exercise, adequate sleep and stress management also help improve and strengthen immunity.
What are the various activities that are planned as part of this initiative? How is CII supporting these activities?
Vinita Bali: CII -through its various activities has been promulgating the cause of health and wellbeing among its members. The current crisis has emboldened the need to bolster immunity and by extending support to this initiative- we want to enable our member organizations to benefit from the information around Nutrition and its role in cementing immunity. This platform is a key to providing credible information and from leading nutrition experts.
What is Danone’s role under this initiative?
Himanshu Bakshi: Danone India has been organizing The Protein Week since 2017 with credible partners to create awareness about Protein and its impact on overall health and wellbeing. It is part of our commitment to inspire healthier eating habits among Indians through sustained advocacy efforts. Through this initiative, we aim to educate all sections of the society through various interventions about the importance of protein in building immunity and overall health. We are going to mobilize various nutritionists through digital platforms to engage with Corporate Workforce, along with mothers and caregivers as they are the decision makers and influence right eating habits at home.
What are CII’s future plans in addressing the nutrition challenges in the country?
Vinita Bali: This year CII also completes 125 years of its journey, marking a long association with nation building. Driven by its Members, CII has emerged as a strong and proactive institution working towards the growth, competitiveness, and sustainability of Indian industry. Recognizing that sustainable growth has to be driven by both economic and human development factors, CII prioritised Nutrition in its national agenda and constituted a National Committee on Nutrition in 2017 to foster multi-stakeholder dialog and action, given the multiple facets and dimensions of nutrition.
This Committee works with key players in the private sector in both, food and non-food companies, development agencies, regulatory agencies, and central and state governments, to further the cause and encourage systemic actions that will enable better nutrition. As you are aware “Poshan Abhiyaan” is also a key priority of the government. Some of the key initiatives of the Committee have been in the area of large-scale food fortification, where the Committee has worked closely with FSSAI, development sector partners, state governments and industry to focus on the importance of food fortification as one of the effective vehicles to address hidden hunger and micro-nutrient deficiency.
The Committee has also created an online portal ‘Accelerating Nutrition Delivery – AND’ to capture nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive initiatives undertaken by companies, development agencies, etc., as a repository of practices and knowledge to address poor nutrition. The portal also serves as a platform to activate and scale partnerships focusing on the key priority areas and essential requirements of nutrition interventions at and.cii.in/.
How are you planning to sensitize Indians?
Himanshu Bakshi: We have planned various interventions pan India and across digital platforms to sensitize Indians. In partnership with CII, various public health awareness workshops in several cities, where leading nutritionists will educate people about the role of protein and other vital nutrients in building immunity. In addition to these workshops, we have launched an Immuno- Nutrient Calculator, which will help Indians check if their daily diet has all important nutrients to strengthen their immune system. We have developed this calculator and have made it accessible for all to use for free. Since protein deficiency is seen too high among mothers and caregivers, we are sensitizing them through various digital platforms and interactive forums.
What is the outcome that you are hoping to achieve through this initiative?
Himanshu Bakshi: The core objective of our initiatives is aimed to deliver knowledge and create awareness about the role of protein-based nutrition in leading an active and healthy life. By bringing in data and facts with information dissemination through nutritionists and experts, we are hoping to bring in a behavioral change among people leading to healthier eating habits.
Is this a long-term initiative/partnership?
Vinita Bali: Nutrition has been a key focus area for CII. This is not a stand-alone initiative, but it is a part of our sustained efforts to create awareness about the importance of nutrition in leading an active life. We will continue with our efforts to spearhead nutrition initiatives that help our member organizations.