Healthy kids - Nestlé enjoys success in school-based nutrition education programme to tackle childhood obesity
With growing concerns about rising obesity levels of children, Nestlé Jamaica has embraced its responsibility of shaping and moulding healthy habits in consumers with its Nestlé Healthy Kids programme, which is aligned to the company's corporate slogan - 'Good Food, Good Life'.
Launched in 2010, the Nestlé Healthy Kids programme has been a pivotal tool used by the company to educate school-aged children between six and 12 years old on the importance of good nutrition and physical activity to their good health.
Shawna Kidd, corporate communications and consumer services manager at Nestlé, used the recently convened International Obesity forum at the Knutsford Court Hotel on July 21-22 to underscore the success of the programme
Young people's health
According to Kidd, the Nestlé Healthy Kids initiative has been effective in supporting young people's health, touching the lives of more than 6,500 children across nine schools, since its inception.
Key to the programme, Kidd said, is the interactive and fun way the information is shared with the children, using colourful workbooks, skits, dance and food models.
"The promotion of healthy eating habits, the understanding of what makes a balanced diet and the importance of physical activity is important for children to know at a very young age as this can support them becoming healthy adults in the future," said Kidd.
The Nestlé Healthy Kids programme is in addition to the company's focus on nutrition education and physical activity as it embraces a multi-sector collaboration with nutrition-centric organisations such as the Jamaica Association of Professionals in Nutrition and Dietetics.
The programme also enjoys strong support from the College and Health Sciences at the University of Technology (UTech) and is endorsed by the Ministry of Education.
It is one of Nestlé Jamaica's corporate initiatives that is unrelated to any of its product brands or marketing efforts. The success of the partnerships over the years was portrayed by the delivery of health status and findings of 310 children conducted at one Nestlé Healthy Kids School through the monitoring and evaluation exercise conducted by Vanessa White-Barrows, registered nutritionist and lecturer at UTech.
According to Kidd, the monitoring and evaluation exercise is a mandatory step in ensuring that the expected intensity and impact is realised.
"It is a way of ensuring that all stakeholders - teachers, parents and children - are engaged, and that the tools - posters, teachers' manuals, children's workbooks (modules 1-6) are delivering the expected results. Where opportunities exist, consultation with professors and nutritionists are held to develop workable and sustainable solutions," said Kidd.
"Nestlé is passionate about the health and well-being of consumers. Our Nestlé Healthy Kids programme creates value for society by empowering our children to lead a healthier life.
"However, Nestlé cannot do it alone and we welcome private and government agencies to come on board, as only through a unified front will we be able to effectively tackle obesity so as to enhance the quality of lives of consumers today in hope for a healthier generation tomorrow," added Kidd.