Developing Partnerships

Department of Health Minister speaks at launch of Mars UK Health and Wellbeing Local Business Partnership
Department of Health Minister attends the launch of Mars UK Health and Wellbeing Local Business Partnership

Developing Partnerships

Many factors contribute to wellbeing, including healthy diets, nutrition education, exercise and active lifestyles, education, and personal and public health. We’re committed to promoting health and wellbeing in the communities where we operate through local, regional and global partnerships.

Creating the greatest benefit requires a collective effort, and working with partners is crucial to encourage people to embrace healthy lifestyles. We develop and implement some of these programs, such as Ben’s Beginners, with relevant experts. For others, we only provide financial and logistics support, such as EPODE for the Promotion of Public Health Equity and Change4Life, which are implemented by third parties.

Bielice Run

In Poland, we have supported Bielice Run—one of the country’s biggest sporting events dedicated to children—for over 20 years. Our role is to provide creative, financial and logistics support, and Mars Associates volunteer to organize parts of the event. Over 2,400 students from 98 schools and 12 organizations for children with special care needs participated in 22 cross-country runs. Through our interactions with local sports coaches, we know that to prepare for the run, each child requires at least 36 hours of training (cardio and muscular) over an eight-week period. The program’s impacts are monitored annually by the EU Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, the Polish Ministry of Sport, and the Polish Olympic Committee. We are developing a formal program to collect feedback from participating teachers that will allow us to further evaluate how long children spend preparing for this event.

Ben’s Beginners

There is evidence that families that cook and eat together are healthier. Mars Food’s Ben’s Beginners campaign includes a cooking competition for children and their parents, with a chance to win prizes for their schools. In the US, this includes $10,000 of cooking equipment, and in other markets, winners are awarded kitchen makeovers or after-school programs.


In the UK, we have been a long time partner of Public Health England’s Change4Life campaign, which aims to get the nation to “Eat Well, Move More, Live Longer.” Our contribution includes adverts and money-off vouchers for UNCLE BEN’S® products, which are low in fat and saturated fat, contain fewer than 400 calories, and meet the Responsibility Deal 2012 salt targets. The program’s impacts have been evaluated by the Change4Life team.

European EPODE Network and EPODE for Public Health Equity

We partner with the European EPODE Network, a community-based childhood obesity prevention program. The network aims to share experiences from operational EPODE programs and other community-based health initiatives throughout Europe. Since its launch in two small French towns, Fleurbaix and Laventie, in 1992, the program has spread to 260 towns in France as well as in countries like Belgium, Spain, Greece, Netherlands, and Romania. Mars is one of four founding private partners. Five universities (in the UK, Belgium, Netherlands, France and Spain) are also involved. The network runs programs in scientific evaluation, social marketing, involvement of political representatives and public-private partnership.

The EPODE for the Promotion of Health Equity (EPHE) program, co-funded by Mars, aims to understand, and reduce, the link between socio-economic inequalities and health. Over three years, the program will study family behavior in seven European countries. EPHE undertakes regular evaluations to measure impacts. The VIASANO project, which uses the EPODE methodology, has already resulted in a decline in childhood obesity rates in participating towns.

We also participate in Jongeren Op Gezond Gewicht (JOGG), a Dutch non-branded initiative that follows the EPODE model and aims to reduce obesity in children. We provide financial support to the program and participate as a steering member. It is monitored and evaluated on a national level by the Dutch government

The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation

We are a founding member of The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), a program that seeks to lower levels of obesity in the United States by 2015, particularly in children. We joined First Lady Michelle Obama and The Partnership for a Healthier America to announce a pledge to reduce annual calories across member companies from 2008 levels by 1.5 trillion by the end of 2015 (starting with one trillion fewer calories by 2012), and to sustain that level.

HWCF publishes an annual report summarizing the project’s impacts. In 2013, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (the largest health-focused philanthropic organization in the US and a program sponsor) estimated that the HWCF had already removed 6.4 trillion calories from the market, representing 78 fewer calories per person per day.

Human-Animal Interaction

Scientific research shows that interaction between people and animals can have positive effects on the physical and psychological health and wellbeing of people and their pets.

Mars is involved in a public-private partnership with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the US National Institute of Health (NIH). Together, we have committed over $9 million to exploring the bond between people and animals. Over 20 rigorously reviewed research studies are under way, which aim to further our understanding of human-animal interaction (HAI) and provide scientific evidence of the mutual health benefits for pets and people.

This funding supports comprehensive research studies into HAI and has already shown that spending time with pets can improve children’s general wellbeing. We have also studied the clinical potential of HAI for treating conditions as diverse as obesity, autism, and post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adults. The research shows that interacting with pets can have a variety of health and wellbeing benefits. For example:

  •  Pregnant women are more likely to meet national guidelines for daily physical activity if they own a dog.

  •  Older adult pet-owners living in communal homes, and who have pre-to-mild hypertension, are less likely to have high blood pressure if a dog is regularly present.

  •  Children in a learning program involving horses increased their social competence.

The partnership has published two books on the role of pets in child health and development, based on a series of workshops co-hosted by the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition and the NIH:

  •  Animals in Our Lives: Human-Animal Interaction in Family, Community and Therapeutic Settings, Edited by McCardle, McCune, Griffin, Esposito and Freund, Brookes Publishing Company.

  •   How Animals Affect Us: Examining the Influences of Human-Animal Interaction on Child Development and Human Health, Edited by McCardle, McCune, Griffin and Maholmes, published by the American Psychological Association.

A third book has arisen from a joint Mars–NICHD session on physical activity at the International Society of Anthrozoology, The Health Benefits of Dog Walking for Pets and People; Evidence and Case Studies, edited by Johnson, Beck and McCune, Purdue University Press.

Jongeren in Beweging Brabant

In 2014, Mars Netherland partnered with Deltalent Foundation to found Jongeren in Beweging Brabant (JIBB). Translating roughly to “Youth in Motion,” the program is a non-branded initiative that enables children from low-income families to access local sports clubs. It works with local governments to promote the idea that a balanced diet and physical activity are important for a healthy lifestyle. Mars provides financial support, and our Associates volunteer during local sports days two times a year.


Mars Germany is one of nine official partners in Lale —“iss bewusst & sei aktiv!” (eat healthy and be active), an initiative to support obesity prevention in (Turkish) immigrant populations. Other partners include the Ministry of Consumer Protection and the Ministry of Consumer Health in North Rhine-Westphalia and the German Platform for Nutrition and Physical Activity (PEB). The Lale concept has been certified in line with the GKV prevention guidelines in Germany and is listed in the official database of prevention programmes – this guarantees that participants’ training is covered by their health insurance—thereby increasing the project’s impact.

Lale uses a specially developed method of nutritional training and education, designed together with representatives from the migrant community to take account of language and cultural sensitivities. The project now has 39 registered bilingual trainers who can offer Lale courses to families with a migration history. The impacts of the project were evaluated by an external research institute ( in 2014, and showed a marked increase in physical activity, cooking as a family, and obesity awareness.

The topics of integration and access to health promoting programs gain momentum and relevance in light of the current wave of refugees coming to Germany. The LALE model can be used as blueprint to create a long lasting impact and also leverage sustainability of other projects in the prevention and health promotion area. Moreover, LALE is meanwhile being used as a case study in a follow up project sharing best practices on a federal level in Germany.

Let’s Move

We support “Let’s Move!,” a federally funded US government initiative dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation. Launched by First Lady Michelle Obama in 2009, the program encourages parents both to make healthy choices for their children now and to teach their children to make healthy choices for themselves as they grow up. The Let’s Move! website offers parents the tools, support and information they need to make healthier choices with their children.


Mars Food France partners with local schools to teach families how to cook healthy and tasty meals at home through "Nutri’s’Cool" sessions. Two Associates conduct the sessions, which include a presentation on the food pyramid and the importance of physical activity to overall health. Students are asked to bring back to school photos that show them cooking with their families. For each photo that is returned to the school, Mars Food France donates a box of rice to local food banks. During the 2013/2014 school year, Associates presented 15 sessions (reaching 300 families) and donated 1000 Kg of UNCLE BEN’S® rice to local food banks. In 2014/15, 30 sessions were conducted.

Nutritious Meals

In China, Mars Cuixiangmi, along with Walmart, supports “Nutritious Meals,” an initiative developed and implemented by China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA). The objective of the program is to encourage consumers to live a healthy lifestyle and walk and jog more frequently with their families. The six-month program converts every kilometer they run into nutritional meals (one carton of milk and one egg for each meal) for children in less-developed areas in China.

Mars Chocolate China designs and implements in-store and social media promotion activities around the program ceremonies. We also made financial contributions to CFPA to buy the nutritious meals. In 2014, 100,000 consumers walked or jogged, contributing 1,001,656 km in total. Through the program, Mars Cuixiangmi and Walmart donated 280,000 nutritious meals to 1,400 students in seven schools in poverty-stricken areas.

Partnering to Improve Oral Health

Wrigley is committed to making a real contribution to the oral health of the world. According to the World Dental Federation, tooth decay is one of the most common diseases on the planet.

In addition to our collaborative research partnerships, we work with governments, public health authorities and NGOs at the local and national levels to promote community oral health and education. Through our Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program, we work with dental health professionals to help improve patients’ oral care routines in more than 40 countries worldwide, with the World Dental Federation and more than 25 national dental associations recognizing these benefits.

Most recently, in 2013, the French Dental Association and the German Association for Preventative Dentistry (DGZ) committed to recommending chewing sugar-free gum in their oral hygiene guidelines. The DGZ has since issued a notification to all German dentists announcing its intention to develop a Scientific Guideline on this matter.

Also in 2013, the Platform for Better Oral Health in Europe, of which Wrigley is a co-founder and member, launched proposed 2020 targets to improve oral health in Europe. The European targets build on earlier publication of the Platform’s “State of Oral Health in Europe” report (2012) which outlined three priorities:

  • Improved data collection systems.

  • Creating oral disease prevention policies in Europe and ensuring the right mix of skills in the health workforce to deliver preventive measures.

  • Reinforcing education of and awareness in the public, starting at an early age with children and teenagers.

This latest joint initiative between academics, chief dental officers, public health associations and industry further builds upon Platform’s work to raise oral disease prevention higher on the European health agenda, and strengthen the link between oral health and general health.

Smart Choice Vending

In Belgium, we work directly with secondary schools as part of the “Smart Choice” vending program. Mars Associates communicate with school principals on the benefits of promoting a healthy, balanced lifestyle and encourage sports. We encourage schools by rewarding points for sports initiatives, which can be used to buy sports equipment. We also ensure that Mars vending machines provide nutritional information through stickers (on GDA labelling, for example), carry products that are below 250 calories per portion, and no large packs, “plus” packs or promotions are allowed. The program’s impacts are monitored annually by the EU Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, and schools provide us with regular feedback on the benefits they are seeing from the program.

Most popular

What do you think? mars:principles in action summary:health and nutrition:developing partnerships