Oct 24, 2013, updated March 2015
Under-nutrition and obesity are growing public health concerns in Colombia. To tackle this combined problem, Nestlé launched its Nestlé Niños Saludables programme in 2007 to help increase children’s awareness about nutrition.
About 12% of children aged five or less in Colombia suffer from under-nutrition, according to statistics by UNICEF in 2013. This number nearly doubles for those who were forcibly displaced due to internal conflict in the country in the same year. Worryingly, under-nutrition affects about 70% of indigenous children in Colombia.
The National Nutritional Survey 2005 led by the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare highlighted that about 20% of children in the country are also overweight and sedentary – and the problem is becoming more and more common in children.
To address these issues, Nestlé launched its Nestlé Niños Saludables programme to help boost nutrition education to youngsters aged six to 12.
As part of the programme, Nestlé partnered with the non-governmental organization Corporación Día de la Niñez, which operates the 'ludotecas' model, or educational playgrounds. Children are taught about healthy eating, hydration, physical activity and vegetable gardening, using the ‘playful adventure’ methodology.
Nestlé and the Corporación’s on-the-ground staff are using guidelines from the National Survey of the Nutritional Situation in Colombia to ensure that the programme meets the right education criteria for children.
Currently the programme takes place in three locations: Bugalagrande, Dosquebradas and Florencia, based near to locations where Nestlé operates its manufacturing facilities. Local mayors’ offices have partnered with the company to activate and operate the programme in each municipality.
To monitor its progress, Corporación Día de la Niñez carries out a quarterly assessment on the ludotecas activities and collects data on the children’s learning and development.
Value to Society
To date, Nestlé Niños Saludables has made contact with 90,000 children who have taken part in activities at the Nestlé-sponsored ludotecas.
In 2014, the programme benefited 7,500 children, 876 parents, 35 teachers and 12 schools.
Parents and guardians have noted a positive change in the attitude and behaviour of children who are taking part in the programme.
The children are able to select a range of food that is presented to them in order to constitute a balanced meal, plus understand the benefits of a healthy diet.
Value to Nestlé
The programme establishes a global competitive advantage and demonstrates Nestlé’s commitment to address health issues globally; and has a positive impact on Nestlé’s reputation as a leading Nutrition, Health and Wellness company.
Nestlé is planning to open a new ludoteca in the city of Valledupar, where the company operates a dairy factory.
It is also considering the activation of a travelling ludoteca model in the capital city of Colombia, Bogotá.
Nestlé, together with a university, will begin an independent evaluation of the programme in 2015.
The Nestlé Healthy Kids Colombia website will also be launched in 2015, in partnership with the largest Colombian government agency for childhood affairs, ICBF.