What is the Healthy Active Kids Program?
Kids across Australia have stopped asking mum what’s for dinner as the latest nutrition education from Nestlé’s Healthy Active Kids helps them to know what should go on their plate.
The Healthy Active Kids (www.healthyactivekids.com.au) program is a partnership between Nestlé and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). Established in 1999, the program aims to raise awareness of nutrition, health and wellness and promote physical activity among primary school age children.
Nutritionist and health educator from the University of Sydney, Professor Jennifer O’Dea independently reviewed the effectiveness of the Healthy Active Kids program, as well as undertaking ongoing professional development with teachers.
“Kids love talking about food. I’ve never met a child who didn’t like to talk about what they eat, and this review shows that kids are really eager to learn about food and nutrition,” she says. Professor O’Dea’s review found that of the students who participated in the program, up to 90 per cent reported having changed their eating habits because of what they learned in class, and more than 75 per cent of students tried to eat foods from the five food groups each day.
“It’s really exciting to see the lessons they’re learning in the classroom are being taken home. For example, kids are telling their parents what they’d like to see on their plates, and even teaching them how to read food labels.”
According to Professor O’Dea, over 50 per cent shared dietary information with their families; and this link between school and home is at the crux of a good health education program.
“The connection between school and home is even stronger because this program is available online – it’s very accessible to the teachers, parents and the children in class. Parents are being encouraged to use recipes from the program, pick produce from the school veggie garden, or pick up analysis of their own diet; that way the parents are learning as well.”
Based on State and Territory curriculums for Health and Physical Education, Healthy Active Kids is an interactive teaching resource that builds on a 16 year partnership between the AIS and Nestlé. It includes more than 80 lesson plans, videos, worksheets, handouts and online games and quizzes.
About 360,000 Australian children participated in the Nestlé Healthy Active Kids online program last year.
“With access to the right information, it’s great to see children making their own decisions about health and nutrition. Whether it’s learning to drink more water or incorporating the five foods into their diet – it’s laying the foundation for a healthier next generation,” Professor O’Dea says. She says parents should ask their child’s teacher if the school is participating in the Healthy Active Kids program.