World Health Day is celebrated annually to raise awareness about the overall health and wellbeing of people across the world. This year’s World Health Day theme is “health for all”, which points towards the need to build healthy habits among children and create awareness about nutrition from an early age.
Nestlé for Healthier Kids program is part of our commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 of Good Health and Well-Being, to ensure that children understand the value of nutrition and physical activity and continue leading healthy lives as they grow older.
The Importance of Nutrition Awareness in Pakistan
In Pakistan, creating awareness about nutrition and strengthening our narrative around the malnutrition challenges is even more important because child malnutrition is highly prevalent in the country. According to the National Nutrition Survey (NNS) 2018 of Pakistan, 40.2 % of children under 5 years of age in Pakistan are stunted, while 18 % are wasted with high micronutrient deficiency levels. Millions of children in Pakistan suffer from stunted growth, cognitive impairments, weak immunity and non-communicable diseases as an outcome of micronutrient deficiencies.
A focus on quality of diet and nutrition awareness is extremely essential to prevent stunting, wasting and other forms of malnutrition. Right nutrition at the right time is essential for child survival, health and development.
Creating Nutrition Awareness and Changing Behaviors through the N4HK Program
One of the possible solutions considered to promote healthy lifestyle is implementing quality programs that ultimately lead to behavioral change. The private sector can play a significant part in this scenario. As the world’s largest Nutrition, Health, and Wellness organization with over 150 years of experience in the science of nutrition, Nestlé takes this responsibility seriously. In Pakistan, it strives to take on the challenge of behavioral change through one of its flagship programs; Nestlé for Healthier Kids (N4HK) program.
Launched in 2010 in Pakistan, N4HK program is Nestlé’s global nutritional awareness initiative, which empowers parents, teachers, and caregivers to foster healthier eating, drinking and lifestyle habits among school-age children. N4HK follows a ‘train-the-trainer’ model through which teachers are trained to induce healthy behavior among the children. It is a curriculum-based education program which is anchored in strong nutritional and behavioral science and aims to encourage the adoption of healthier habits.
The program ensures that children understand the value of nutrition and physical activity, and continue leading healthy lives as they grow older. This is part of our giving back and being responsible in our communities. In Pakistan, the program has reached out to more than 320,000 kids and has trained more than 1750 teachers through 10 partners nationwide from private and public sector. The program has expanded its outreach through a recent partnership with Government of Gilgit Baltistan to promote nutrition awareness and sustainability education.
The launch of Nestlé for Healthier Kids Program in Gilgit-Baltistan is a great initiative by Nestlé Pakistan. Nutrition interventions and initiatives like N4HK are extremely essential as they positively affect child development with the focus on the critical early years of life. We are confident that the awareness imparted on nutrition will play a very important role in promoting healthy habits and a better nourished future generation.Mohyuddin Ahmad Wani Chief Secretary Gilgit-Baltistan
The program establishes foundations for healthier eating by inspiring kids through various interactive and fun learning activities and campaigns like healthy lunchbox contest, cooking workshops for kids and exciting online drawing and essay contests.
As part of Nestle’s efforts, during the pandemic when people were confined largely to their homes, Nestlé Pakistan launched an online Nestlé for Healthier Kids essay writing competition to engage the youth in a creative campaign. There was an overwhelming response where teachers and parents appreciated the campaign which led us to launch the Drawing Contest in 2021 and Essay Contest in 2022. The participation in contests is quite large, with more than thousand entries rolling from across Pakistan.
The essay contest nurtured a healthy competition amongst children. Such engaging and impactful educational activities inspire students to understand and educate themselves on the pertinent issues concerning nutrition.Ms. Uzma Adnan Principal, The Trust School, Girls Branch, Harbanspura
In future, the program plans to adapt to online learning through offering digitized self-learning modules to develop and deepen nutrition knowledge. This will provide students, teachers and parents with access to free health education and resources, expanding our outreach.
Sustainable Change calls for Collective Action
Nestlé for Healthier Kids is exemplary for other organizations to follow as it reflects the collective action approach in collaboration with other educational partners to help address the nutrition challenge to give children a happier and healthier future.
Since nutrition is a multi-stakeholder approach, it is a collective responsibility and requires a joint effort from all the stakeholders, if not equally, at least substantially. The program is indicative of what we all need to do in an era of interdependence: share responsibility and take collective action. On paper this sounds difficult, but it begins with small steps taken at home. Eat healthy, promote a healthy lifestyle and most of all, be kind to one another.