Improving health and well-being

Unilever's work on improving health & well-being supports

7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Select one of the goals to find out how we're taking action in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Find out how we’re realising the business opportunity from the SDGs
Good Health and Wellbeing

Good Health & Well-Being

Despite major advances in recent decades, millions of people die each year from preventable causes. These deaths often occur disproportionately in the world's developing regions. The lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene, for example, contributes to the deaths of more than 1.4 million children under five each year from diarrhoea and pneumonia (see also SDG6).

At the same time, ill-health, whether mental or physical, can prevent individuals reaching their full potential, with a knock-on effect on their communities and economies.

Many of our best-known brands – including Lifebuoy, Domestos and Signal – are driving our USLP commitment to help more than 1 billion people take action to improve their health and wellbeing, reaching over 600 million people by 2017. Lifebuoy's handwashing campaign alone aims to change the hygiene behaviour of 1 billion consumers across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Domestos is working to improve access to sanitation through a combination of partnerships, market-based models and advocacy. And Signal/Pepsodent is promoting oral health, reaching nearly 78 million people by 2017 to encourage better brushing habits.

Our safety, health and wellbeing programmes are helping to improve the health of our employees and those we work with. This includes a focus on tackling HIV/AIDS in our workplaces in Africa, where the incidence of HIV at our sites is now below the average and the mortality rate has dropped by up to 50%.

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Our Big Goal Improving health and well-being for more than 1 billion
By 2020 we will help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.

Improving health & well-being

Our performance: Health & hygiene

By the end of 2017 we had reached around 601 million people through our programmes on handwashing, safe drinking water, sanitation, oral health and self-esteem.

Around 601m people reached†
Over 2010-2017 Lifebuoy's handwashing programmes reached 426m people
55m people reached with safe drinking water; 85 billion litres since 2005
10m people gained improved access to a toilet over 2012-2016
78m people reached with oral health programmes since 2010
29m young people received help via Dove self-esteem programmes over 2004-2017
2.6 million people reached through our Vaseline healing project since 2015

Our performance: Nutrition

In 2017, 39% of our portfolio by volume met the highest nutritional standards. This is based on an assessment of every single product in all countries, and across our total retail and foodservice business.

39% of our foods met the highest nutritional standards in 2017, based on globally recognised dietary guidelines
63% of our foods met our 5g per day target for salt intake
Sugar across all our sweetened tea-based beverages reduced since 2010 -15%0
90% of our packaged ice cream contained 250 calories or fewer per portion
Key:
Achieved
On-plan
Off-plan
% Of target achieved

Our approach

Lack of safe drinking water, and poor sanitation and hygiene, cause millions of preventable deaths each year – particularly among children. By 2020 we will help more than a billion people to improve their health and hygiene. This will help reduce the incidence of life-threatening diseases like diarrhoea, which is one of the main causes of deaths in children under five.

Today, more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight – that’s 39% of the world’s population – with 40 million children classified as obese. At the same time, micronutrient deficiencies are estimated to impact over 2 billion people. By 2020, we will double the proportion of our portfolio that meets the highest nutritional standards, based on globally recognised dietary guidelines. This will help hundreds of millions of people to achieve a healthier diet.

Our approach encompasses health and hygiene and improving nutrition. We are uniquely placed to deliver change at scale as we are the only multinational consumer goods company with a portfolio across Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, Foods and Refreshment. The business case is compelling – delivering our commitments is driving more growth, lower costs, less risk and more trust. Our approach, which directly supports a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, focuses on:

  • Selling appealing products with health, hygiene and nutrition benefits
  • Encouraging people to take action on health, hygiene and nutrition through behaviour change programmes
  • Advocating to bring these issues higher up the national and international policy agenda
  • Working with partners dedicated to health, hygiene and nutrition, to broaden our impact.

Independently assured by PwC

Improving health & well-being pillars

Health & hygiene

Kids washing their hands

We’re helping to drive transformational change through our brands, and our water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) agenda.

Improving nutrition

A man spreading butter on toast

Our vision is of Sustainable Nutrition – foods and refreshments that taste good, feel good and are a force for good.

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