A subsidiary of Baxter International has launched a range of bottled water with added nutrients. It claims that the products are the first of their type to be developed and marketed by a global health care company.
The Pulse products - which Baxter first announced earlier this month -are being rolled out in three formulations - one to benefit women's health, one for men's health and another for heart health.
The company said that the Pulse supplements were a convenient way to receive nutrients and other nutrient-related ingredients and were especially targeted to the nutritional needs of what it calls the "Baby Boomers, aged 38-56".
"Millions of Baby Boomers are now beginning to experience chronic health issues," said Dr Pamela Peeke, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
She added: "Boomer men are at higher risk for prostate cancer. Women in this age group are entering perimenopause and menopause. Both sexes are at increased risk for cardiovascular issues, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol."
She said that improving nutrition could address many of the chronic health conditions facing Baby Boomers but that many important nutrients, for example soluble fibre, are not consumed in adequate amounts in typical American diets.
"In addition, many Boomers have hectic lifestyles and say they don't have the time to pay attention to good nutrition," said Peeke, a Pew Foundation Scholar in Nutrition and Metabolism.
The company cited a survey completed in 2000 by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) which showed that nearly 60 per cent of respondents pointed to the lack of time and inconvenience as major reasons for not focusing on proper nutrition and health.
The survey also highlighted a growing number of people who said they knew what healthy eating is and felt they should eat a healthy diet, but for one reason or another failed to implement a better diet.
Dr Arline McDonald, senior project manager at Baxter, said: "The nutrients in Pulse supplements are all backed by solid research; they are scientifically demonstrated to promote health in targeted areas. The nutrients normally cannot be consumed in adequate amounts by eating food without substantially increasing calories."
The Pulse concept was derived last year during Baxter's Non-Traditional Research and Innovation (NTRI) programme, launched in early 2001. NTRI is an internal venture capital fund, which invests in opportunities that Baxter's existing businesses would not typically pursue.
The entire innovation process for Pulse, from initial concept to market, took 14 months."Pulse is an excellent example of how an innovative idea, nurtured with focused support and technological know-how, can yield exciting new growth opportunities," said Norbert Riedel, Baxter's chief scientific officer.
"It also demonstrates the important role NTRI plays in incubating innovation-friendly business processes, for example processes that shorten the time to bring new ideas to market."
Baxter said the product development was helped by its experience in nutritional solutions, particularly in formulating non-water soluble ingredients into a water-based solution and developing specialised containers to assure stability and shelf-life.
The Heart Health Formula contains 25 per cent of the recommended daily value of dietary fibre, to help maintain cholesterol levels. Other ingredients include vitamin C and selenium. It is available in Mandarin Citrus and Strawberry Kiwi flavours, and each 16.9 fluid ounce bottle contains 36 calories.
The Women's Health Formula contains soy isoflavones and calcium which promote bone health, magnesium and vitamin D which promote bone health by supporting calcium metabolism, vitamin B6 which helps to keep the nervous system, blood and skin healthy, folic acid to help support a healthy heart and blood vessels, and vitamin B12 which supports folic acid metabolism.
The Men's Health Formula contains lycopene, which helps promote prostate health and protects the body against free-radical damage, vitamins C and E, selenium and green tea catechins, all antioxidants important in maintaining heart and prostate health.
Pulse will be launched initially in greater Chicago and Arizona in the US, and will be available from specialist retailers.