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Improved understanding of Nutrition, Health and Wellness for the World’s School Children

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Improved understanding of Nutrition, Health and Wellness for the World’s School Children

Encouraging the early adoption of healthy lifestyles through school-based strategic efforts lays a solid foundation of good public health, and improves the quality of available resources for the next generation of Indonesians.

Schools offer us the opportunity to reach out to large numbers of students through the interaction teachers-students-parents, since school-based efforts are very effective in cultivating a healthy lifestyle. Primary school students are at the beginning of their learning process; they are busy studying and setting new standards of behavior, as well as learning about healthy lifestyles.

Studies of the health of elementary school-age children reveal disturbing trends. The results of examinations by the Ministry of Health, through the National Household Health Survey of 2004, showed cases of anemia among school-age children (5-11 years) account for 24%, while malnutrition makes up 21%. Children between 5-17 years old recorded malnutrition rates of 18%, but 8% of those examined enjoyed better nutrition. A 2008 study of the nutritional status of 2345 primary school students in Kepulauan Seribu by Yayasan Kusuma Buana showed that using weight indicators according to age, 25.5% children were found to be underweight and as many as 2.9% suffered from severe malnutrition. Height indicators of malnutrition, by age, revealed 22.1% were under-sized and 7.2% severely malnourished.

Various studies also show elements of the modern lifestyle of today’s society leads to primary school-age children adopting unhealthy lifestyles. Habits such as eating unhealthy snack foods and reduced physical activity are an increasingly widespread phenomenon among school students, according to the National Household Health Survey by the Ministry of Health. In 2004, this study found that 8% of children aged 5-17 years were overweight. Without earnest efforts towards change, this will result in the birth of a next generation with poor lifestyles, health and nutritional habits, as well as higher risks of developing many health problems.

Therefore, Nestlé Indonesia, in cooperation with Yayasan Kusuma Buana and the Indonesian Medical Nutrition Society (PDGMI), initiated the Nestlé Healthy Kids program. It aims to involve Indonesians in an integrated program to increase awareness, knowledge and understanding of nutrition, good hygiene and environmental protection, and encourages school students to apply this knowledge every day of their lives.

This program reaches 40,000 elementary school students (Grades 3, 4 and 5) in locations all across Indonesia by training primary school teachers and providing them with complete study modules. By 2010, this program was already implemented at seven primary schools in 3 cities; in 2011, 24 primary schools in 12 cities were involved. Currently, this program is conducting high level talks with the Ministry of National Education, in order to complement their own program for Healthy Schools.