The Danone Institutes
Danone Institutes are not-for-profit organisations contributing to improving the quality of the diet and therefore the health of all people. With this objective, Danone Institutes promote evidence-based scientific knowledge in diet and nutrition and disseminate relevant knowledge on diet and nutrition to professionals in fields such as health care, education and media as well as to the public.
Danone Institutes gather internationally renowned scientists in diet and nutrition from independent organisations (eg, universities, research centres) who are committed to taking a multidisciplinary approach combining medicine, biology and human sciences.
Danone Institutes are independent from the Danone Company. They define their own programs to be relevant in their local environment.
- They have no commercial objective
- They act freely and independently
- They function on the basis of guidelines that guarantee a clear and democratic organisation
- Danone Institute publications never contain any commercial/advertising information
The first Danone Institute was created in France in 1991. Since then, an international network of 15 local Danone Institutes has been developed in Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Spain, the United States and Turkey. Today, more than 200 renowned experts in diet and nutrition are involved in this unique international network. In each country, the local Danone Institute develops specific programs including the following:
- Research support through grants, credits, awards, fellowships and scholarships
- Publication of research findings
- Organisation of scientific conferences
- Publication of newsletters and books for professionals (eg, health care professionals, educators, journalists)
- Organisation of training and education sessions for professionals (eg, health care professionals, journalists)
- Production of pedagogic material, leaflets, booklets, television and radio programs, computer games for parents, pregnant women, children, teenagers, and older adults
An international entity was created in 2004 to develop international activities such as research support and scientific conferences or publications, to enhance collaborations between Danone Institutes and/or their members and to promote the sharing of experience between Danone Institutes.
The programs offered by Danone Institutes may deal with any food or nutrient that could have an impact on human health. They are generally focused on major public health nutrition issues.
- Support for research: To date, Danone Institutes have funded more than 700 research studies, which accounted for more than €11 million.
- Prizes and awards: More than 40 prizes and awards have been attributed to outstanding professional initiatives for more than €600,000.
- Symposia, workshops and educational meetings: Since 1991, more than 140 events involving top-level scientists have reached more than 30,000 health professionals.
- Publications related to health and nutrition: Seventy-five publications and 6 newsletters present professionals with overviews of recent developments, promote consensus and/or explore controversies about relevant issues.
- Education programs for the public: More than 70 programs (eg, nutrition lectures, distribution of folders and brochures) geared towards the public have been organised.
SPECIAL FOCUS ON PERINATAL AND CHILD NUTRITION
Proper nutrition during pregnancy and childhood is increasingly understood to be a major determinant of growth, development and future health. Therefore, Danone Institutes consider that encouraging good nutrition in pregnancy and childhood is the key to improving public health. For this reason they dedicated a large part of their activities to perinatal and child nutrition. The most recent programs include the following:
- Support for research: (1) award of the 2005 Danone International Prize for Nutrition (€120,000) to David J.P. Barker (University of Southampton, UK, and Oregon Health and Science University, Portland) for his innovative research work on the developmental origin of chronic adult disease leading to the so-called Barker's hypothesis; (2) partnership with the European Union Childhood Obesity program to test the possible relationship between the level of early protein intake and the later risk of obesity; (3) award of several grants to local research programs.
- Organisation of scientific conferences: (1) at the local level: “Child Nutrition and Development” (Danone Institute France, 2005), “Early Nutrition and Later consequences” (Danone Institute China, 2005); (2) at the international level: “Nutritional Solutions to Major Public Health Problems of Preschool Children” (Danone Institute International 2005 at the 18th International Congress of Nutrition), “Novel Concepts in the Developmental Origins of Adult Health and Disease” (Danone Institute International 2006 at Experimental Biology 2006), “Risks and Benefits of Rapid Early Growth” (Danone Institute International 2006 at Europediatrics 2006)
- Publications: “Early Nutrition and Later Consequences: New Opportunities,” proceedings of a European Union–supported workshop organized at the 2nd World Congress of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (Danone Institute International 2005)
- Educational programs for professionals: (1) “The Course in Pediatric Nutrition,” created in 1998 by Danone Institute of Italy. This annual 2-d course, given by teachers of the pediatric clinic of the University of Milan with the support of the Italian Society of Pediatric Nutrition, provide extensive and most recent practical knowledge on children's diets to pediatricians. This course, acknowledged by the Italian Ministry of Health as part of the program of Continuous Medical Education, is now available online for individual training at www.istitutodanone.it. (2) The corpulence program developed by Danone Institute of France, encourages health professionals to monitor the evolution of the body mass index of children and open a dialogue with parents on childhood obesity. This program, in line with the national plan of the French Ministry of Health, comprises a series of leaflets and posters for health professionals and parents.
- Educational programs for the public: (1) “Healthy Diet, Healthy Growth”, a television program produced by Danone Institute of China, aims to educate mothers with children 6 to 16 y old about what constitutes a healthy diet. Fifty-two episodes of 10 min each were shown on 5 national television channels. (2) “Celebrating Healthy Eating,” a nutritional education program developed by Danone Institute US, specifically designed for preschool children. The curriculum is distributed nationally to early child educators. Families can read about nutrition news, create recipes for children, and learn about children's books about nutrition. Teachers have access to educational information, lesson plans and activities on different food groups. Tools are now available online at www.celebratehealthyeating.org. (3) Computerised nutrition games for children were recently developed by Danone Institute of Czech Republic and Danone Institute of Poland for children ages 7 to 10 y and 6 to 9 y, respectively. Both games presenting dietary and nutritional information in a fun and interactive way are intended to help children develop healthy eating habits and contribute to preventing childhood obesity.
Readers are encouraged to read more information about the Danone Institutes and their activities at www.danoneinstitute.org.