Healthcare strategy: Herbalife outlines plan to work with professionals to drive nutrition education in APAC

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Herbalife plans to partner healthcare professionals in imparting nutrition knowledge, such as tips on nutrition for healthy ageing.  ©Getty Images
Herbalife plans to partner healthcare professionals in imparting nutrition knowledge, such as tips on nutrition for healthy ageing. ©Getty Images

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Herbalife has outlined its plans to engage the healthcare community, including general practitioners, nutritionists, and dietitians, to better educate APAC consumers about the right nutrition intake.

A recent survey by the company showed that 74% of consumers saw healthcare professionals as the most useful source of nutrition information.

Yet, only one in three had received regular nutrition advice or asked for nutrition advice during the visit to the healthcare practitioners.

Reasons included a lack of time during consultation (40%), lack of priority (18%) and that it is not a common practice to discuss nutrition (21%) during such visits.

The survey involved 5,500 consumers and 250 healthcare professionals from 11 APAC countries in March, including Australia, Korea, and Vietnam.

Nearly 80% of the healthcare professionals said that nutrition companies should play a larger role in imparting nutrition knowledge.

Both the healthcare professionals and consumers see nutrition companies as the second most trusted source of nutrition information.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, ​John Hellman, VP of government affairs, said the company would work with healthcare professionals in educating the public on three key nutrition areas.

They are nutrition for sports and active lifestyles, healthy ageing, as well as prevention against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – with the latter two the common problems seen in APAC.

"You see a lot of markets in APAC where the population is ageing, in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan

"And you have places throughout Southeast Asia, for example, Thailand, which you consider to be typically be a relatively youthful population, but it is actually becoming an ageing population,"​ Hellman said.  

He added that consumers were not well-informed when it came to nutrition for ageing and causes of NCDs.

"Two of our nutrition related surveys this year revealed the immense gap and need for further nutrition knowledge amongst consumers.

"For example, we have one in three consumers in APAC that believes the false idea that the body requires less protein as we grow older,"​ he said. 

Some also held the wrong belief that consuming saturated fats can raise good cholesterol. 

"We think imparting nutrition awareness is crucial to fostering more empowered and discerning consumers that will lead to healthier outcomes in lifestyles. 

"There is a wide range of potential partners, ranging from GPs to nutritionists and dietitians, and their respective professional organisations," ​he said, on the company's plans in partnering healthcare professionals in imparting nutrition knowledge. 

To engage the healthcare professionals, the company invited the community for the first time this year as speakers and participants to the e-wellness tour that has been running since 2014. 

Present initiatives

Aside from healthcare professionals, the company is also working with government and civil organisations in promoting nutrition education.

An example is in Vietnam, where the firm is working with the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) housed under the Ministry of Health (MOH) in tackling key health issues.

“We partnered with them on a variety of projects. The most recent being assistance with the nationwide public health survey to aid the MOH in properly assessing and tracking health issues,”​ Hellman said.

In Indonesia, it is partnering the vice president’s office in disseminating information related to nutrition and health.

“You got to have a focus on not just the nutrition society, the academia, but also through partnerships with the government.

“Linking up with the government - it is obviously a trusted entity that you can work with, you can share information, materials, best practices with,” ​he said.  

Elsewhere in Malaysia, it signed a MoU this year with the Nutrition Society of Malaysia in organising workshops to tackle NCDs.

This month, it is conducting a sports science and nutrition virtual workshop that also addresses myths about sports nutrition.

With the universities, you are working with established institutions, you are also working with the next crop of academics, the next crop of government officials and bureaucrats through that process.”

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