Promoting healthy lifestyles
9 June 2014
NGOs, business and the authorities should unite to promote a healthy lifestyle in Russia
The third national forum on social responsibility themed Creating Shared Values: Combining Forces to Create a Healthy Environment, took place on the above date in the federal public chamber. Specialists noted the role of NGOs in promoting a healthy lifestyle and advocated combining the efforts of business, government, scientific bodies and communal organisations to mount social campaigns and create youth brands that could disseminate the values of healthy eating and other aspects of a healthy way of life amongst the young.
The forum was the outcome of an initiative taken by Nestle Rossiya and the public chamber’s committee for social policy, labour relations and quality of life. Representatives from the third sector, government, science and the media discussed what is needed to create a healthy lifestyle in Russia.
‘Today the task of promoting a healthy lifestyle is recognised at all levels but cannot be solved in isolation. Public surveys have shown that people see the first priority for their development and enhancing the quality of their lives as being a healthy environment, involving suitable nourishment, and clean air and water. This approach was not contrived but was the product of an evolution in public thinking. Where people understand its significance then it is all the more important to make common progress in the right direction to create a healthy environment conducive to a quality lifestyle.’ said Elena Topoleva the chair of the public chamber’s committee.
The head of the Laboratory of Hygiene and Vocational Training, at the Russian Academy of the Medical Sciences (RAMS) Evgenia Shubochkina, observed that research showed on average the physical development of 4.3% of the children entering the first class in Moscow schools are healthy, with a normal level of development. By the ninth grade the percentage was 0.7%. The main risk factors included stress within the family, low physical activity, lack of sleep and poor nutrition. The general director of Nestle Rossiya, Mauritsio Paternello, sees nutrition as the key to a healthy way of life. He said: ‘We must create values not only for investors but also for society. We have created a business and at the same time understand that we must instil correct eating habits. It is with pride that we promote common values in our everyday practices at all levels. This is not merely philanthropy. Within the context of creating shared values we create new values in the field of nutrition, the development of the countryside and conservation of water resources. We enable the community to develop in a durable way.’
Nestle promotes the principles of a healthy diet amongst young people. Since 1999 the company has run a national educational programme called Discussing a Proper Diet, in which over 800 children from 48 regions in Russia take part every year. Over that time 336 million roubles has been invested in the promotion. Nestle Rossiya sees their products as needing to be not only tasty but also of good quality supplemented by micro-nutrients – iodine, zinc and so on. The company also runs cookery classes and promotes domestic food preparation, whilst advocating cutting down on salt, sugar, saturated fats and transfats. It popularises the principles of a correct and effective diet, a healthy way of life and physical exercise.
Excessive weight is a global problem, including in Russia, according to leading scientist at RAMS, Anna Pogosheva. In some Russian regions this applies to 35% of the population. The highest percentage is found in the Moscow and Kaluga oblasts and Nizhny Novgorod. Specialists point to the problem of obesity in children which is often linked to consumption of sweet, fizzy drinks.
NGOs play an active role in promoting a healthy lifestyle, according to the Evgenia Alekseeva, a member of the government’s council on social guardianship and director of Focus Media, the Fund for Social Development and the Maintenance of Good Health. She said that NGOs can play an active role in promoting a healthy lifestyle and behaviour using the channels of mass communication and also by enhancing the work of youth movements and organisations that encourage the young to take responsibility for their own health. ‘Efforts to inform the public about a healthy lifestyle are struggling at present. Not very many NGOs are active in that regard. Maybe youth brands could be more influential in persuading young people to behave more responsibly.’ said Ms Alekseeva, adding that:
‘NGOs have played a leading role in using social advertising . Furthermore, communal organisations have been pioneers in using new channels of communication to disseminate social advertising via videos, audio clips, leaflets, posters and so on. They were the first to mount campaigns in the mass media based on a clearly defined strategy. It would be interesting to combine the technologies used by business and RAMS and disseminate them amongst young people, thus creating a common brand to designate mass events.
Author: Yulia Vyatkina