By Alphonsus E.W
Nestlé, the world’s leading Nutrition, Health and Wellness Company, officially launched its Healthy Kids Global program in 2009.
The initiative focuses on nutrition education, good nutritional practices, healthy lifestyles, and physical activity among school children, with the help of national and international partnerships.
The programme acknowledges the negative impact deficiency in essential food nutrients such as vitamin A, Zinc, Iron or Iodine can have on the growth of children. These include stunted growth, a reduced intelligence quotient, and a lower resistance to infection. Statistics show that about one third of children in West Africa are stunted in growth, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The FAO has also highlighted that malnutrition is one of the main causes of high mortality rates in the sub-region.
Established in 2009 to Nigeria, the Nestle Healthy Kids Global Programme was aimed at improving children’s dietary habits. Four years down the line and the impact is quite impressive. So far, more than 15,000 children aged six to 12 in the states of Lagos, Ogun and Oyo have benefitted from the program.
Through the Nestlé/IAAF partnership, over 200,000 primary school pupils in Nigeria are expected to be reached in the next 12 months through athletics coaching organized in schools in Ibadan, Ilorin, Owerri, Kano, Asaba, and Gombe.
IAAF’s affiliate in Nigeria, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), is collaborating with Nestlé Nigeria to further develop the programme and promote athletics in schools.
Programme involves equipping teachers with innovative skills to promote nutrition education in the classroom by engaging and encouraging the pupils to develop good eating habits and getting involved in physical activities that will help enhance their health.
The initiative is supported by the Lagos and Ogun State governments, and is facilitated by the Centre for Health Education, Population and Nutrition (CHEPON).