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Nestlé’s Sugar Scandal Sparks Global Outrage as Black and Brown Communities Bear the Brunt

Source: Very Well Family

The recent revelations surrounding Nestlé’s sugar scandal have reignited global outrage, with concerns particularly focused on the impact on Black and Brown communities in the Global South. As reports surface of added sugars in infant products sold in these regions, experts warn of the grave health consequences and systemic inequalities perpetuated by multinational food corporations.

From allegations of food racism to calls for stricter regulations and consumer empowerment, the discourse surrounding Nestlé’s practices underscores the urgent need for systemic reforms in the food industry.

Nestlé’s Troubling History Resurfaces of Adding Sugar to Baby Formula, Reignites Anger

In 1977, Nestlé found itself embroiled in a scandal, leading to widespread outrage and a global boycott. Dubbed “The Baby Killer,” a damning report revealed how Nestlé, alongside other multinational formula companies, contributed to the illness and deaths of infants in developing regions by promoting bottle feeding and discouraging breastfeeding.

Source: Youtube

Campaigners decried the company’s aggressive marketing tactics, including the use of sales representatives dressed as nurses to establish credibility with consumers.

Nestlé’s Reputation Under Siege After  Intensifying Scandals Unveil Sugar Controversy

Despite being ranked among Forbes’ top ten most reputable companies in the world in 2013, Nestlé faces escalating scrutiny in 2024 as scandals persist and worsen.A recent report by Public Eye, released earlier this month, has once again exposed troubling practices within the Swiss multinational corporation.

Source: Pexels

The report presents damning evidence of Nestlé’s inclusion of sugar in products sold in impoverished regions, contrasting sharply with the absence of sugar in equivalent products marketed in the Western hemisphere.

Discrepancies in Sugar Content of Nestlé’s Cerelac Spark Global Concerns

The report reveals alarming findings regarding Nestlé’s Cerelac product, indicating that 94% of the cereal sold in major markets across Africa, Asia, and Latin America contains sugar.

Source: Youtube/ET NOW

Specifically, the wheat-based cereal, targeted at infants aged 6 months and older, was found to contain significant amounts of sugar per portion, such as 7.3g in the Philippines, 6.8g in Nigeria, and 5.9g in Senegal. In stark contrast, the same product sold in Germany and the UK contains zero added sugar.

Concerns Mount as Nestlé’s Nido Powdered Milk Reveals Disparities in Sugar Content

The report highlights troubling disparities in the sugar content of Nestlé’s powdered milk product, Nido, aimed at one-year-olds. It reveals that 72% of the products sold in low and middle-income markets contain added sugar, with notable examples including Panama (5.3g per portion), Nicaragua (4.7g per portion), and Mexico (1.8g per portion).

Source: Flickr

Such discrepancies raise significant concerns about equitable access to nutritious infant products across different regions.

Racial Disparities in Infant Nutrition Exposed Amidst Sugar Controversy

Susana Ramírez, associate professor of public health communication at the University of California, sheds light on the distressing message conveyed by the disparities in treatment between predominantly white populations and predominantly Black and brown populations.

Source: X/Dr. A Susana Ramírez is on sabbatical

Ramírez emphasizes that there is no plausible or nutritional justification for the addition of sugar to food for babies and young children.

The Health Risks of Adding Sugar to Infant Foods

Susana Ramírez, associate professor of public health communication at the University of California, underscores the detrimental effects by saying “Adding sugar in foods for babies and young children contributes to their poor health as they develop, including dental cavities and obesity, both of which are incredibly difficult to change once they have set in”.

Source: Youtube

She also explains that “More insidiously, sugar is highly addictive, so consuming foods with added sugars in early childhood trains kids’ palates to prefer sweetened foods. This leads to lifelong preferences for such foods, exacerbating the negative health impacts of such foods”.

Industry Tactics and Allegations of Hooking Infants on Sugar for Lifelong Consumption

Susana Ramírez points out the industry’s motives behind adding sugar to infant foods, citing its addictive nature and its role in shaping lifelong dietary preferences.

Source: Shutterstock/Diego Cervo

She emphasizes that “They are literally hooking babies on sugar,”.

Nutritional Expert Warns of Risks Associated with Added Sugars in Infant Diets

Sina Gallo, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Georgia, concurs with concerns about the consumption of added sugars in infant foods. Gallo highlights the potential consequences of consuming these “empty calorie” foods, explaining that they displace essential nutrients from nutrient-dense alternatives.

Source: UGA Online

She stated that “Infants and toddlers are growing at an incredibly fast rate and need large amounts of nutrients for their growth yet have a limited stomach capacity. So, if they are consuming sugar, partially added sugar with no nutritive value, this will affect their growth and development”.

Importance of Early Nutrition and Expert Insights on Sugar Guidelines for Children

Sina Gallo emphasizes the significance of early nutrition by highlighting pediatric guidelines recommending limited added sugar consumption for children.

Source: YouTube

Gallo highlights the critical period of the first 1,000 days of life, “This includes when the child is conceived until 24 months of age when deficits—including nutritional inadequacies—are associated with the development of chronic diseases in adulthood. Animal research from 2019 suggests that sugar consumption in early life may have consequences [on] cognitive function such as memory in adulthood.”.

Rising Obesity Rates in Low and Middle-Income Countries

The rising prevalence of obesity and related health issues in low and middle-income countries marks a significant shift in global health concerns. Sub-Saharan Africa has witnessed a substantial increase of over 20% in obesity rates among children under 5 in recent decades, paralleling trends observed in countries across Asia.

Source: Flickr

This phenomenon highlights a concerning trend of co-existing undernutrition and obesity in these regions.

Susana Ramírez Remarks on Food Racism and Cultural Erosion in Global Nutrition

Susana Ramírez  highlights the intricate relationship between food, culture, and health, identifying the influence of the food industry as a form of “food racism.”

Source: Flickr/Jonathan Selimovic

Susana Ramirez says “Food and diet are intricately related to culture as well as to health. To the extent that colonization by the food industry is destroying traditional ways of eating, I would call this food racism.”

Nestlé’s Response to Sugar Controversy and Cultural Considerations in Infant Nutrition

In response to the Public Eye report, Nestlé asserts that the variance in product offerings across countries is due to the availability of local ingredients.

Source: Flickr/Kabir Dhanji

Sina Galo explains “However, children all have the same nutritional needs for their growth and development. It is the availability which differs and hence why children in lower-income countries will be more vulnerable to inadequate nutrition.”

Nestlé Scandal Spotlights Global Expansion and Regulation Issues

Susana Ramirez stresses that “This scandal highlights the growing significance of the Global South for the food and beverage industry, particularly as health-conscious Western consumers become increasingly wary of sugar amid escalating rates of diet-related diseases.”

Source: Flickr

She also says “Consumers in the industrialized West benefit from policies regulating the content, labeling, and marketing of food products in addition to educational policies intended to raise awareness of the dangers of added sugars,” she emphasizes  “Thus, to keep growing, the food industry needs to expand its consumer base, and the Global South is where [it] can grow. Governments in the industrialized West where these corporations are based could play a role in mitigating the negative effects of these products by regulating more closely how these companies operate.”

Susana Ramírez Calls for Regulatory Action to Protect Vulnerable Families

Ramírez highlights the unfair burden placed on families, noting “Very effective marketing campaigns convince families that expensive formulas are necessary for their children to be healthy,” she says. “Families trust their regulatory bodies to ensure that their food supply is safe and healthy. Yet these bodies, by allowing the food industry to add an addictive and unnecessary nutrient in the foods, are failing the most vulnerable in society.

Source: Youtube

Ramírez urges regulators and advocate“There should be strict standards regarding the composition of foods made specifically for children. There should also be strict regulation of the marketing of such foods”.

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Sally Reed

Written by Sally Reed

Sally, a dynamic and viral writer, has taken the literary world by storm with her exceptional storytelling prowess. With an uncanny ability to tap into the collective consciousness of her readers, she crafts narratives that resonate deeply and linger long after the last word is read.

Born with a creative spirit, Sally honed her writing skills from a young age, cultivating a unique voice that blends emotion, wit, and social insight. Her work spans a wide spectrum, from poignant short stories that tug at the heartstrings to thought-provoking essays that challenge conventional thinking.

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