Citing Health Issues, Former Health Sec Asks Amitabh Bachchan To Disassociate With Horlicks

The Logical Indian Crew

June 7th, 2018 / 7:09 PM

Image Source: tvnews4u

Amitabh Bachchan shared three tweets on May 31, announcing his association with GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare’s, Horlicks for a new campaign. With his recent tweets, he was lending his support to a new campaign by Horlicks, which makes the malted drink for children. Horlicks’s campaign is called ‘Mission Poshan’, and the motto is: “We are here to fight the malnutrition in our country.”

The name of the campaign is very similar to Indian government’s own programme “Poshan Abhiyaan”




 

Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest, a national think tank on nutrition, has written an open letter to Amitabh Bachchan to withdraw from the campaign. The letter has been signed by well-known experts in public health including Keshav Desiraju (former union health secretary), Vandana Prasad (pediatrician), Arun Gupta (child health activist and doctor) and KP Kushwaha (pediatrician and former principal of BRD Medical College, Gorakhpur).

Earlier in 2014, he had withdrawn from Pepsi as the product was unhealthy.


Experts cite health concerns

In the open letter, public health experts have asked him to disassociate from the brand because of the high sugar content and the high price of Horlicks. According to them, seeing the Big B of Bollywood promoting Horlicks as a nutritious product for children might make parents from low-income families buy the expensive product and also, the claims by Horlicks are scientifically unsubstantiated.

The letter says, ” Horlicks is a high sugar product, as 100 gram of a popularly advertised pack of Horlicks Delight, contains 78 gram of carbohydrates of which 32 grams is sucrose sugar. This is harmful to children as it may contribute to childhood obesity and non-communicable disease in later life.”

The letter also says that Horlicks’ claims are not scientifically proven: “In 2016, the World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted a Resolution that recommended ending inappropriate promotion of foods for children from ages 6−36 months based on WHO and FAO dietary guidelines. Going by this recommendation promotion of Horlicks falls into the category of “inappropriate” as they use false health claims in TV commercials. It is neither good food nor nutrition, it is just a high sugar product, what nowadays is called empty calories.”

Horlicks has a page in their website that talks about the ‘The Science Inside’. They say their product supports immunity, builds bone area and muscle, improves concentration, helps make healthier blood and allows for healthy weight gain. They say they are “a leading force in the ‘Science of Food’.”

“Promotion of Horlicks stating that it helps kids in gaining height, weight, brain development and the healthy immune system is inappropriate as these claims are scientifically unsubstantiated,” said Dr J.P. Dadhich, a pediatrician in Delhi.

A GSK Consumer spokesperson said that they are planning to address the issue. “Horlicks has been a trusted household name for over 100 years and has been synonymous with nutrition. As a brand, we aim to address the often overlooked issue of micronutrient deficiency in children which is widely prevalent in India,” they said in a statement, reported Business Today.

Here is the entire letter:

Dear Sh. Amitabh Bachchan,

We came to know about your association with the recent campaign on undernutrition in India and truly appreciate your commitment to the cause.

However, we are shocked to see that you are joining hands with Horlicks and Network 18 to launch “Mission Poshan” to support India’s Rashtriya Poshan Abhiyaan.

We like to submit as under:-
Horlicks is a high sugar product, as 100 gram of a popularly advertised pack of Horlicks Delight, contains 78 gram of carbohydrates of which 32 grams is sucrose sugar. This is harmful to children as it may contribute to childhood obesity and non-communicable disease in later life. We hope you are aware that WHO recommends a reduced daily intake of free sugars throughout the life course to less than 10% of total energy intake. Furthermore, in the interest of good health WHO suggests an intake of free sugars to below 5% of total energy intake.

In 2016, the World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted a Resolution 69.9 that recommends ending inappropriate promotion of foods for children from ages 6−36 months based on WHO and FAO dietary guidelines. Going by this recommendation promotion of Horlicks falls into the category of “inappropriate” as they use false health claims in TV commercials. It is neither good food nor nutrition, it is just a high sugar product, what nowadays is called empty calories.

We believe that this campaign is misleading and undermines optimal nutrition. Big food companies are known to adopt marketing tactics that build brands by entering through the back door. Horlicks, in this case, is championing the cause of nutrition.

You may be aware that undernutrition mostly creeps into the resource-poor households. We fear that this campaign will influence families and children from these families to buy Horlicks assuming it is a good nutritious product as you are behind it. Horlicks is expensive, may displace real family foods. Thus, your association with Horlicks is unlikely to achieve the objective of curbing undernutrition in India.

In the year 2014 you had renounced your association with Pepsi based on health implications on children. Association with ‘ Horlicks’  is equally harmful to children

We also believe such an association will negatively impact your image. of socially concerned artiste. Therefore we request you to call off the association with Horlicks immediately in public interest’.

Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest – India (NAPi) A national think tank on nutrition –consisting of independent experts in epidemiology, human nutrition, community nutrition and pediatrics, medical education, administration and management; having decades of experience in respective fields; has come together to advocate on nutrition policy in public interest.


Contributors

Written by : Poorbita Bagchi

Edited by : Abhinav Joshi

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