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Big B urged to disassociate himself from Horlicks

Jun 12, 2018

Indian think tank NAPi has expressed shock over Amitabh Bachchan, who is a celebrity of the millennium, supporting brand building of ‘Horlicks’ which is a sugary product.

New Delhi: Public health experts in India have requested Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan to dissociate himself from Horlicks campaign. According to experts sugary solutions like Horlicks could not be a ‘medium’ for tackling under-nutrition in India.

A recent partnership between Horlicks and Network 18 rendered support to Government's initiative ‘Rashtriya Poshan Abhiyaan’. The government initiative aims to to curb undernutrition in India. Many people welcomed this step as they roped in megastar Amitabh Bachchan for this purpose.

Horlicks’ campaign is named similar to Poshan Mission of the Government, as ‘Mission Poshan’. Popular Indian think tank Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPi) has urged Bachchan to call off this association with Horlicks in public interest and children’s health.

In its letter to Bachchan, NAPi has pointed out, “Horlicks is a high sugar product, as 100 gram of a popularly advertised pack of Horlicks Delight, contains 78 gram of carbohydrates of which 32 grams is sucrose sugar.”

NAPi has expressed shock over Amitabh Bachchan, who is a celebrity of the millennium, supporting brand building of ‘Horlicks’ which is a sugary product.

Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, Head of Neonatology Department, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi, said that undernutrition mostly creeps into the resource poor households. “I fear that this campaign may have serious adverse repercussions. Horlicks is expensive, it is likely to drain pockets of marginalised families under the misbelief that ‘Horlicks’ is a good nutritious product for children as it is endorsed by a celebrity like Amitabh Bachchan. Thus, Horlicks may displace healthy real family home foods and this way contravenes tackling the problem of undernutrition among children."

Dr Aseem Malhotra, a renowned British cardiologist, author of ‘The Pioppi Diet’ and former Director of Action on Sugar, UK, termed Amitabh Bachchan’s association with ‘Horlicks’ harmful. “High sugar foods or beverages should be prohibited for children. Sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever and causes no feeling of satiety. Aside from being a major cause of obesity, there is increasing evidence that added sugar increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and fatty liver,” he said.

In the year 2014, Bachchan had renounced his association with Pepsi based on health implications it has on children.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a reduced daily intake of free sugars throughout the life course to less than 10 per cent of total energy intake. Furthermore, in the interest of good health WHO suggests intake of free sugars to below 5 per cent of total energy intake. In 2016, the World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted a Resolution 69.9 that recommends ending inappropriate promotion of foods for children from age 6−36 months based on WHO and FAO dietary guidelines.

Professor HPS Sachdev of Sita Ram Bhartia Insitute said that celebrities should avoid lending their name and image to such products. “This amounts to creation of a manipulative nexus, based on conflicts of interest. Celebrities should avoid lending their name and image to such products,” he said.

Dr J P Dadhich a senior pediatrician from Rohini in Delhi said that the campaign is misleading and undermines optimal nutrition. “Promotion of Horlicks stating that it helps kids in gaining height, weight, brain development and the healthy immune system is inappropriate as these claims are scientifically unsubstantiated,” he said.

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