A Healthy Today for a Strong Tomorrow: CPG Companies Tackling the Nature vs. Nurture Debate

CPG companies
CPG companies could do more to support adequate nutrition in infants and children.
Image source: Flickr user Sarah Joy

The question has been asked millions of times before: is nature (genes) or nurture (environment) more important for children, and, in particular, their brain development?1. Now, scientists believe that although genes provide a layout for the brain’s general floor plan in terms of its wiring and the connections between regions, that wiring and those connections are still subject to fine-tuning due to the influences of experience, culture, environment and, unsurprisingly, nutrition.

According to the organization Alive & Thrive, adequate nutrition for pregnant mothers during pregnancy (the brain begins to form just three weeks after conception) and into an infant’s early childhood is necessary for normal brain development. As described by the group, “Children with restricted development of these skills during early life [due to poor nutrition] are at risk for later neuropsychological problems, poor school achievement, early school drop-out, low-skilled employment, and poor care of their own children, thus contributing to the intergenerational transmission of poverty.”2. And this problem is not limited to low and middle-income countries. The National Center for Children in Poverty published a report titled “Who Are America’s Poor Children: Examining Food Insecurity Among Children in the United States,” in which they described the plight of fourteen million children who live below the federal poverty level3, not to mention the many more whose parents might still struggle to make ends meet.

In this milieu, how can CPG companies use innovative practices and research efforts to support proper brain development in these children and many others?

 Can CPG Companies Help Build Stronger Infants and Children?

Physicians and nutritionists have already established that certain foods are especially important in supporting brain development. These include greens, eggs and yogurt among others4. However, food supplementation in the forms of high-calorie drinks with micronutrients that are specially geared to support brain development could go much further toward ensuring that children are receiving adequate nutrition. Additional supplementation of these drinks with essential fatty acids, for example, could further promote neuronal growth and network establishment. In this context, CPG companies can use electronic laboratory notebooks to take recent developments in nutrition and neurobiology and apply those discoveries toward implementing more therapeutic drinks or supplements for children. Following are specific ways in which CPG companies can do so:

More affordable supplements and nutritional options: Those children who experience poor nutrition are often also poor. Using electronic laboratory notebooks to search the literature and organize data, CPG companies can identify ingredients and supplements that have been shown to especially support neuronal development. Identifying cheaper alternatives for some can ensure that the drinks or food supplements created are not prohibitively expensive so that parents of children can afford to use these products. Alternatively, government resources could also be used to supplement the costs of these “super foods” for poor families.

Formula vs Breastfeeding? It is well-established that breastfeeding supports the physical and cognitive development of infants. For CPG companies, it is worth determining how infant formulas can be improved to better mimic breast milk. Are there ways CPG companies, for example, can boost the immunological benefits of formulas to promote a healthy immune system? Alternatively, how might CPG companies improve the digestibility of formula? The answers to these questions will again support brain development by ensuring that infants have adequate nutrition.

Investing in novel products via the use of electronic laboratory notebooks can ensure that CPG companies continue to create products that work. In particular, these companies can provide an important means for children to affordably supplement inadequate nutrition, ensuring that everyone can start on a more level ground. To determine how the BIOVIA Notebook could be used to support growth and innovation in your own industry, please contact us today.

  1. “Zero to Three,” 2014, http://main.zerotothree.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ter_key_brainFAQ
  2. “Nutrition and brain development in early life,” January 2012, http://www.cmamforum.org/Pool/Resources/Nutrition-brain-development-early-life-A-TTechnical-Brief-2012.pdf
  3. ”Who Are America’s Poor Children?,” August 2012, http://www.nokidhungry.org/sites/default/files/text_958.pdf
  4. “7 Brain Foods for Kids,” http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/features/brain-foods-kids

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