Nutrition & Behavior: Nestle

Speaker: Dr. Anjan Bhattacharya - DCH (Lond); MRCP (Lond); MRCPCH (UK). Consultant Developmental Pediatrician, Child Development Centre, Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, Kolkata. Presented at: Nestlé Nutrition Institute, Kolkata


Speaker: Dr. Anjan Bhattacharya - DCH (Lond); MRCP (Lond); MRCPCH (UK). He is a consultant Developmental Paediatrician, Child Development Centre, Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, Kolkata. Insights from studies show that even at zero to six months almost 20 % children are undernourished. This talk outlines the co-relation between nutrition and human behaviour with specific references to children and malnourishment statistics putting 42% of children (as per reports) in the mentioned category. Drawing reference to a UNICEF model of causation, this talk outlines the importance of education and joint support of the mother and family in ensuring that the child is not undernourished. The talk outlines the various behavioural disorders that may arise while showing linkages to childhood eating habits. This talk also showcases ways to positively impact human behaviour through Nutrition education.

The relationship between nutrition and behaviour is twofold. Nutritional factors have a significant effect on behaviour and this is particularly relevant for the prevention and treatment of behavioural problems. The nutritional status of children may be affected by their behaviour. Eating habits in childhood includes prenatal and postnatal flavour learning by human infant’s, introduction of variety of different tastes, flavours, textures to prevent neophobia, repeated exposure of same foods for at least 7-10 to increase acceptance and almost always parental behaviour shapes food acceptance.

Understand 4 goals of nutrition education which are focus on the behaviour(s) that needs to be promoted, address influence(s) on the behaviour(s), look at all levels of influence and continue to address them and to design programs using theories that address behaviour change. Understand constructs of behaviour change theories a how these constructs are applied in nutrition education. Learn behaviour change and nutrition education resources available to intervention developers and program planners

There are various causes of malnutrition. There is a link between poor nutrition, behaviour and environmental factors. People respond to different diets in differently. A change in diet may have a placebo effect since a person may think so. Difficult to ascertain through an IQ test to claim that intelligence has been affected by diet. There are many health promotion tools like mass media, social marketing, community mobilization, health education, client-provider interactions and policy communication.

Behaviour change successes are by reducing malnutrition (micronutrient initiatives), preventing malaria (insecticide- treated bed nets), helping children survive (breastfeeding), improving maternal health (safe motherhood movement, emergency obstetric care), making family planning a norm (worldwide efforts) and by combating HIV/AIDS (National program).

The lessons learned from health promotion are researching underlying causes, addressing contextual factors, identifying and reaching key actors at every level, involving stakeholders throughout the process and by using sound behavioural theories. Improving global health requires change at every level- individuals, families, communities, organizations and policy making bodies. Evidence based behavioural theories and successful behavioural change case histories point the way. Next step is to gather political will and to gather sufficient resources.