Many of PepsiCo’s products aren’t exactly what one would consider to be nutritious, and the sodas and potato chips that are PepsiCo’s bread and butter are often cited as contributing factors to obesity in both adults and children.
So we're on high alert whenever this company does anything philanthropic that relates to food. As much as we wished that all corporate foundations had noble motives, there are a lot of reasons to be skeptical. If the food and beverage industry were really serious about addressing obesity, it would take a harder look at its products and marketing.
All that said, junk food and sugary drinks are not the only contributing factors to obesity. Undernutrition is also a major culprit.
Ironically, undernutrition, which is a form of malnutrition, increases a person’s obesity risk. According to PepsiCo, studies have shown that the weight and height of babies between the ages zero and two play a role in the prevention of lifelong obesity. There are likely many factors that contribute to the interrelation of chubby babies and lifelong obesity, but one thing is for certain: babies and children burn a lot of energy. Consequently, their bodies have a high demand for nutrients. Without essential nutrients, babies and young children can develop a host of metabolic issues and other deficiencies.
These are just a few reasons why the PepsiCo Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) partnered up to form the Sustained Program to Improve Nutrition, or Spoon.
Spoon is a five-year program that addresses the increasing obesity-related health problems in Latin America. More specifically, the program will focus its attention on Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, and Columbia.
With PepsiCo’s $5 million grant and the cooperation of the health ministries in all four countries, the program hopes to decrease the high rate of chronic malnutrition in children ages six months to two years old. Spoon will initially focus on improving infant feeding practices in the region, as well as promoting the use of nutritional supplements that include essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids.
The overall goals of Spoon are to improve the health of the estimated seven million Latin American children under the age of five that suffer from chronic malnutrition and slow the growth rate of kids under five that are considered overweight or obese. PepsiCo’s grant money will also go toward developing a behavioral change study that will encourage parents and caregivers to take on healthy eating and nutrition habits.
The Spoon project is expected to launch in both urban and rural areas in Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, and Columbia.