Health experts ask Amitabh Bachan to take back endorsement for Horlicks

A team of public health experts has urged filmstar Amitabh Bachchan to dissociate himself from endorsing Horlicks, a multinational brand that has extended support to the center’s recently launched National Nutrition Mission aimed at addressing the issue of under-nutrition in the country. The experts under the banner of the nutrition Advocacy in public interest-India (NAPi) in a letter to the actor reported that 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.

The experts were reported saying that this is harmful to children as it may contribute to childhood obesity and non-communicable disease in later life. They said the World Health Organization recommended a reduced daily intake of free sugars throughout the life course to less than 10% of total energy intake. Furthermore, in the interest of good health World Health Organization suggests the intake of free sugars to below 5% of total energy intake, as said the letter.

The letter also mentioned that in the year 2016, the world health assembly adopted a resolution 69.9 that recommends ending inappropriate promotion of foods for children from ages 6-36 months based on WHO and FAO dietary guidelines. They were reported saying that going by this recommendation promotion of Horlicks falls in the category of inappropriate as they use false health claims in TV commercials and that it dents Mr. Bachchan’s image as a socially responsible celebrity.

Dr. Arti Maria, Head of the Neonatology Department, RML hospital was reported saying that she fears that this campaign might have serious adverse repercussions. Horlicks is expensive and is likely to drain pockets of marginalized families under the misbelief that Horlicks is a good nutritious product for children as it is endorsed by Mr. Bachchan. Thus Horlicks may displace healthy real family home and this way contravenes tackling the problem of under-nutrition among children.

High sugary foods and beverages should be prohibited for children as sugar has no nutritional value and that there is increasing evidence that added sugar increases the risk of developing type 2-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and fatty liver, as stated by Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a renowned British cardiologist and the author of “The Pioppi Diet”. The campaign was misleading and undermines optimal nutrition, as stated by the experts who urge the actor to call off his association with Horlicks.

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