Oct 7, 2013, updated October 2013
Nestlé launched its Programa Niños Saludables initiative in 2011 to address the dietary behaviour of school children aged five to eight years in the Americas, where obesity is an increasing problem.
Recent statistics have revealed that about 62% of men and women in the region are overweight, and 26% are obese, according to the World Health Organization.
For example in Guatemala, more than a quarter of women over the age of 20 suffer from obesity, which is twice more than men in the same age bracket.
In Panama, a fifth of men and nearly a third of women 20 years and older are obese.
Focusing on nutrition education, the main focus of Programa Niños Saludables is to help improve the eating and hygiene habits of more than 2,000 children in 15 schools in Guatemala and Panama.
The programme is supporting the national Annual Education Plan of the Ministry of education and has also received further backing from the Ministry of Health.
Nestlé is working with nutritionists, pedagogues, teachers, psychologists and other specialists to develop academic material for school children and parents as part of the programme.
Teachers use educational guides to help pupils understand a number of different themes on healthy eating habits, physical activity and hygiene standards.
Programa Niños Saludables takes place during the entire school period.
Teachers and parents measure the benefits of the programme and help to monitor how pupils respond to the sessions by carrying out on-going assessments.
In addition to this, an independent nutritionist compiles evaluations on students and teachers throughout the programme.
To further boost the programme, Nestlé worked with FETV CANAL 5, a mass television communication firm in Panama that promotes science, technology, civic and moral values, non-violence and the family unit. The television organisation videoed over 50 slots of Programa Niños Saludables, which is being broadcast daily during its afternoon programming schedule for children.
Value to Society
In 2012, Programa Niños Saludables reached nearly 2,000 children, more than 5,000 parents and over 100 teachers.
In the same year, evaluations showed that children changed their eating habits and started to take healthy food in their lunch boxes to eat at break times.
Pupils also began to recognise and adopt healthier eating and drinking behaviours.
Value to Nestlé
Establishes a global competitive advantage and demonstrates Nestlé’s commitment to address health issues globally; has a positive impact on Nestlé’s reputation as a leading Nutrition, Health and Wellness company.
Nestlé looks to boost Programa Niños Saludables by working with a television communication firm in Guatemala to extend the programme's reach next year.