Health Valley
Text: Jade Albasini

Promoting healthy eating

The Nestlé Research Centre leads a number of research projects to improve the quality of the food we eat.

Vers-chez-les-Blanc, in upper Lausanne. With a population of some 1,100, this small community became home to the Nestlé Research Centre (CRN) in 1987. The institute, which conducts research on the food we eat, has since opened three branches, located in Shanghai (China), St. Louis (USA) and Tokyo (Japan). Its managers highlight the importance of maintaining the main centre in Health Valley. “The concentration of qualified engineers and noted scientists in the Lake Geneva region is unique,” says Thomas Beck, director of the CRN since 2012. “Our geographical location means that we can work closely with a number of establishments on the cutting edge of the latest technologies, such as ETH Zurich or the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). Being close to leading pharmaceutical companies brings another added value for us.”

Our health is directly related to the ingredients we eat.

The CRN’s 600 employees across its four sites worldwide work towards improving the quality of products while reducing their sugar or salt content without compromising taste. They also try to grasp the complex relations between food and well-being. “Our health is directly related to the ingredients we eat,” says Thomas Beck. “That’s why we conduct numerous studies to better understand the impact of food on the organism.” Every year, more than 200 scientific studies conducted by the CRN are published in medical journals.

For example, in 2014 Nestlé researchers discovered that coffee considerably reduces insulin resistance in healthy people. They also revealed that children who cook develop better eating habits, with 76% of them eating more green vegetables. And the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus rhamnosus appears to promote weight loss in female subjects.

Another aim of the CRN is to anticipate future human dietary needs in order to extend life expectancy while remaining healthy.