Thursday, October 2, 2014


If successful promotion through well articulated advertisements in visual media is an indication that these foods are healthy and nutritious, most junk foods marketed by many multinational food companies will be eligible for the tag! But it is a known fact that most of these foods are inimical to the health of most of the consumers who believe the words of the industry and buy them day in and day out. To day's obesity epidemic is a product of such foolish buying tendency among consumers in almost all parts of the world. India also is not an exception as reflected by a recent report in a business magazine which highlighted the success of a product, an iconic one with 80 years of history behind it through sheer branding and intense promotion through saturation advertisements in visual media across the country.

"Meanwhile, Horlicks went a step ahead to appear as the premier health drink for the family. It created one of the most popular TV campaigns with its 'Why do I drink Horlicks?' commercial in the 1980s. Vignettes of people from different walks of testifying why they loved Horlicks was an early instance of slice-of-life advertising. By the 1990s, Horlicks was beginning to change, targeting specific consumer segments rather than the entire family. Company executives say that the health food drink market was evolving and developed niches. Extensions such as Junior Horlicks, targeting children between one-three years of age surfaced as early as 1995. By the first decade of this millennium, Horlicks had variants such as Horlicks Lite (2005) targeting diabetics and Horlicks nutribars (2006) in its portfolio. A few years later, extensions such as Womens Horlicks and Mother's Horlicks were also added. GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare EVP (marketing) Jayant Singh said that Horlicks' extensions in many respects have helped grow the market: "To grow the category, either you improve width or depth of consumption. At times, we have grown width, at times depth". Singh says that women who buy the product were becoming discerning. So in 2005, it came up with 'Taller Stronger Sharper' following clinical tests that showed it aided bone and muscle health of children. In 2010, Horlicks was40 Years Ago...and now: From family nourisher to individual supplement coinciding with its extension into biscuits and cereal bars (noodles were launched in 2009 and oats in 2011). While in 2012, it was positioned as a drink fortified with 26 vital nutrients that aided the five important signs of growth".

What is not clear is how can a product containing malt extract be positioned as a health food because nutritionists have established the adverse effect of reducing sugars like maltose on protein utilization in human body. Amino acid-reducing sugar reaction is supposed to bind the active moiety in protein making it inaccessible to protease enzymes present in stomach excretions and if this is so adding malt extract containing products to milk can reduce the protein efficiency ratio values of even the milk proteins. However it must be conceded that malt flavor is universally liked and beverages containing malt extract can make the final product highly appealing to the palate of children and adults alike. It is also to be noted that malt extract containing beverage products are unique to India and nowhere else in the world they have any significant market. Considering these facts food scientists in India must take up this issue with FSSAI regarding the advisability of allowing unsubstantiated claims by the malted beverage manufacturers about the health benefits being touted by them.


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