I was shocked when I saw this post on Facebook last night. Having done some research, it would seem that it is correct. A friend posted the link to this article

 http://www.businessforhome.org/2014/09/herbalife-to-provide-nutrition-curriculum-in-schools-across-us/

Herbalife are sponsoring nutrition education in schools in America. Really? The organisation they are working with, Common Threads, work with underprivileged children to help reverse the generation of non cooking and overweight children. It sounds like a great program though I suspect it has to deliver education that fits with High Carb, Low Fat dietary guidelines which are set by the US government.

My issue with it is that Herbalife sell weight loss products. I don’t feel that it’s appropriate to be encouraging children to use shakes and bars for weight loss. They should be taught about eating real food for health not just weight. Herbalife are sponsoring programs that are delivered in schools where the parents aren’t able to afford the products so why are Herbalife doing it? I can only assume that it’s to improve their rather poor image.

I have reviewed shakes and similar products before and whilst I see why people like the convenience of them, they are not a long term health solution. Ultimately, we need to teach kids how to cook healthy, nutritious meals which are based on real food not just pasta and sauce. If kids know how to cook properly and eat well, there is no place for shakes even in sport. Protein shakes and bars rarely lead to long term weight loss and health. They are ultimately still processed food and often use very synthetic ingredients.

I understand that not for profits and charity organisations need grants from big corporate companies to help them implement community programs but some of the sponsors of the program have questionable pasts and ethics. Surely, an organisation that promote weight loss through shakes is not suitable for children. Not only is childhood obesity rising but also the number of young people being affected by eating disorders is also increasing too. We need to be aware of the message given to children about their health and weight at both ends of the spectrum.

There are 3 key things children need to help them lead healthy lives:

  • cooking skills
  • an understanding of what real food is
  • awareness of the impact that a healthy diet can have on health

The problem is schools have to teach current government healthy eating guidelines which are too high in carbohydrates for health and many cooking lessons at schools don’t teach children about cooking, it’s often a case of  stirring jars in and still using processed food. We could ditch almost all of the nutrition guidelines if we just encouraged everyone to eat real food. There would also be no place for protein shakes and other weight loss products as they wouldn’t be necessary.

If you would like to read more, here are the articles I found whilst researching to check the story is true:

http://www.businessforhome.org/2014/09/herbalife-to-provide-nutrition-curriculum-in-schools-across-us/

http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/herbalife-family-foundation-partners-with-po-leung-kuk-provide-community-nutrition-program-1998807.htm

http://jptrainingsystems.com/herbalife-in-schools-a-real-life-kids-first-industries/

http://commonthreads.org/what-we-do.html

http://ir.herbalife.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=869917

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so please leave a comment