The business of shaping up is finally taking form. As India faces the worrisome prospect of becoming the diabetes capital of the world, a whole lot of healthcare chains and FMCG companies are waiting in the wings with a slew of new products to target the diabetic adult and overweight children.
Low sugar-low fat candies, cereals, breakfast bars, special diabetes-BMI checkups and weight reduction programmes are now targeting both the middle aged and the pre-teens alike. With about 35m existing diabetics and a quarter of the urban school kids sitting ducks for obesity-related diseases, dietary patterns are once again coming under the scanner.
“Almost 24% of the public school going children is either obese or overweight,” says Delhi Diabetes Research Centre chairman Dr Ashok Jhingan. While he has been campaigning against the sedate lifestyle and faulty dietary patterns, others are pitching in with damage control solutions.
Chains like VLCC, Apollo and Fortis are planning to launch a lifestyle weight management package for young families. "Often it is not just the child, it is the entire family that is overweight" says nutritionist Shikha Sharma, who is also co-ordinating with Apollo Hospitals for a weight management programme, to target obesity in younger children.
Meanwhile, FMCG companies are repositioning their existing health brands as health products for the family. Sales of sugar-free confectionery variants, mostly gums that have been launched by Perfetti, Lotte and Wrigley's during the past 18 months have shown double digit-growth.
“The low fat milk category has grown at a phenomenal rate after Mother Dairy launched it,” informs a company official. He credits the growth to health conscious young families. Similarly, drink variants from Cadburys and Nestle, initially targeted at the senior citizens have found favour with overweight kids.
Dieticians are recommending Kellogg's basic shakti corn and wheat flakes as an alternative to the fancier frosted and Chocos version while Zydus Cadilla maintain that the SugarFree products are being adopted both by diabetic adults and young families.