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US research proves yogurt’s added benefits for kids

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The mission of Nutricia, Danone's Medical Nutrition division is to improve the quality of life of people made vulnerable by age or illness. To achieve this, Nutricia works with health professionals to promote the active role of nutrition in their patients’ treatment and during convalescence. The division also communicates directly with patients and the caregivers who assist them, in order to explain why targeted nutrition helps to maintain health and quality of life for as long as possible.

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TARGET SPECIFIC PATHOLOGIES

The independence and quality of life of elderly people and the impact of their care on public health spending is a major issue in a time of ageing populations.

 

Nutricia’s teams therefore dedicate a large portion of their research to developing products designed to increase the physical and intellectual independence of elderly people. Two major innovations are now on the market:

  • Fortifit is a nutritional supplement that slows age-related loss of muscle mass and, in doing so, facilitates daily activities and reduces medical complications.
  • Souvenaid is a nutrient-fortified beverage designed to complement the specific dietary recommendations made by doctors to patients suffering from early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Developed in partnership with MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States), Souvenaid has shown positive results for this category of patients during two phases of clinical trials.

 

IMPROVE PATIENT COMPLIANCE

Actually taking the nutritional supplements, which have often been prescribed to speed up convalescence or as a complement to a medical treatment, can sometimes be difficult for patients.

 

Helping patients comply with medical instructions is therefore a key challenge for the Medical Nutrition research teams. Nutricia invests heavily to make its nutritional supplements easier to use and take, through the development of “compact” formats. This means reducing the volume while maintaining the nutritional density needed by frail patients. Fortimel Compact was the very first product to launch this format, packing the nutritional benefits of a 200 ml drink into just 125 ml.

Today, Calogen, a high-energy fat emulsion, is also produced in this smaller version, and Nutricia's goal is to generalise compact formats.

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ENSURE EATING REMAINS A PLEASURE

Medical Nutrition’s efforts are also focused on taste, an essential element if nutritional supplements or food substitutes, in the case of allergies, are to be accepted. This applies to both children and adults.

 

Nutricia places the same importance on offering varied flavours and textures with its specialist products as all the other Danone divisions. In turn, this plays a large part in improving the image of medical nutrition and making it easier to encourage those who need these products to use them.

For example, the aim of the division’s specialised paediatric ranges is for patients to forget the “medical" aspect of the products, so that taking them does not single them out as being different. The nutritional substitutes for children with allergies or nutritional deficiencies are produced in a variety of flavours such as fruit “smoothies”, chocolate and vanilla, and presented in colourful small pouches, thus helping children to accept the constraints of their diet when with other children or at school.

 

CARRY OUT PREVENTIVE ACTIONS

Nutricia's mission extends upstream to operations screening or prevention, to improve the care of patients.

 

As a pioneer in the development of screening programmes, Nutricia has organised a wide scale operation in the Anatolia region of Turkey to detect metabolic problems from early infancy. This operation allows patients to benefit from a suitable treatment and to be monitored in the long term.

In a quite different field, services for elderly people are mushrooming, particularly in countries where structures for caring for seniors are less well organised. In Brazil, elderly people will represent 15% of the total population in 2025 and nearly 30% in 2050. With the support of the Danone Ecosystem Fund and the NGO Ohle (Observatório da Longevidade Humana e Envelhecimento), Nutricia is trialling the Caring for the Caregivers programme, to train home helps and carers. These caregivers help elderly and infirm people when they leave hospital, particularly in ensuring they follow their prescriptions and eat enough to regain their independence. In all, some 1,150 people will be trained over the five years of the project, which was launched in 2011.

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SUPPORT PATIENTS AND DOCTORS

Digital technology has a huge potential for helping Nutricia to fulfil its mission. It offers a direct method of supporting patients and their families on a daily basis.

It also provides the opportunity to better understand their needs and find nutrition-based solutions for overcoming severe allergies or deficiencies caused by undernutrition. These initiatives see Nutricia teams working with doctors and nutritionists. In the United Kingdom, Nutricia addresses health professionals directly through a website dedicated to problems relating to milk protein intolerance in newborns. Developed in partnership with doctors.net.uk, the largest network of medical practitioners in the country, this platform has reached nearly 8,500 doctors since it was launched in 2011. Inspired by the success of this site, Neocate (a hypoallergenic preparation which is a substitute for cow's milk) launched a website in partnership with the British Allergy Foundation which targets the general public and particularly the parents of children suffering from an allergy to cow's milk: www.cowsmilkallergy.co.uk.?