Child malnutrition continues to be a serious problem in the Philippines that begs action from various sectors of society. According to the latest available data, stunting among children in the country has decreased from more than 30 percent to 26 percent, but is still high. Stunting is a form of irreversible undernutrition in which a child’s height is below the standard for his or her age. On the other hand, as for obesity, the national average for children 11 years old and above has increased from 9 to 12 percent. Moreover, the proportion of insufficiently physically active adolescents from 10 to 17 years old averages 71 percent among males, and 82 percent among females. Therefore, promoting physical activity among the youth will be a critical concern in coming years.
Given these statistics, Nestlé Wellness Campus is highly relevant today as a partnership between Nestlé Philippines and the Department of Education (DepEd). Through Nestlé Wellness Campus, now on its seventh year, grades 1 to 10 public school students and their parents in the NCR, CALABARZON, Bicol, Central Visayas, and Northern Mindanao regions are schooled in the importance of choosing healthier food and drink options as well as engaging in physical activity and family-together mealtimes.
The program reaches over eight million students, some five million parents, and two hundred thousand teachers in more than 12,000 public schools; it is the most widely implemented nutrition education activity in Philippine public schools embedded in the MAPEH (Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health) curriculum of the DepEd.
Seeking to contribute to the formation of healthy lifestyle habits among children, Nestlé Wellness Campus is part of the global Nestlé for Healthier Kids (N4HK) initiative, which aims to help 50 million children worldwide lead healthier and happier lives by 2030, by supporting parents on their journey to raise a generation of healthier kids. As the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company, Nestlé’s purpose is to enhance quality of life and contribute to a healthier future. Thus, N4HK is an important vehicle which integrates Nestlé’s efforts to support parents in their endeavours to bring up healthier kids.
On September 18, 2019 representatives of Nestlé Philippines led by Mr. Kais Marzouki, Chairman and CEO, and Atty. Ernesto S. Mascenon, SVP and Head of Corporate Affairs, and officials of DepEd-NCR visited Pinagbuhatan Elementary School with a population of 4,602 students in Pasig City to witness Nestlé Wellness Campus in action.
The agenda included a Wellness Dancercise performance by students, visiting various Wellness display booths and the school's Gulayan sa Paaralan and canteen, observing Wellness classes and the feeding area for wasted and severely wasted pupils, a presentation on the implementation of the program by School Principal Wilma P. Soriano, and interacting with the school's administration, teachers, and students.
“Mga bata -- Together with your parents and teachers, we hope that you will apply all your learnings from the Wellness Campus—practice Healthy Habits always by choosing nutritious food with the right portion, drinking a lot of water and playing actively. Share your learnings with your family, friends and neighbors because with your help, we believe that more children will be healthier and happier,” Mr. Marzouki said in his remarks.
“Mga magulang at guro -- Maraming salamat for supporting and encouraging your children. Together, we play a very important role in teaching them the value of choosing wellness for our family and society. Thank you for believing with us that together, we can help raise a generation of Filipino kids who are healthy, happy and valuable members of society,” he added.Pinggang Pinoy or Healthy Plate); Play Actively; Choose to Drink Water; and Enjoy Meals Together.
Go, Grow and Glow food are carbohydrates, proteins, and fruits and vegetables, respectively. Pinggang Pinoy from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute is an easy-to-understand food guide that illustrates the right food portions per meal to meet Filipino energy and nutrient needs.
Apart from nutrition education for students, nutrition modules for parents are also shared to ensure that what is being taught to children is also applied at home. The parents’ modules contain the same nutrition topics, however the messages focus more on how to address picky eaters, increase fruit and vegetable intakes of children, and manage grocery budgets, as these are the common nutrition-related concerns of Filipino parents.
In addition to the core nutrition modules, the Wellness Dancercise is performed daily by the entire student population of each participating school after the flag ceremony and as a warm-up exercise during their Physical Education classes.
The program also encourages schools to create other initiatives beyond the Nestlé Wellness Campus curriculum to promote healthy habits among students year-round. Examples of these initiatives are building fruit and vegetable gardens, designating a “Wellness day” in schools, integrating the Nestlé Wellness Campus modules in other core subjects, and promoting water drinking.
In 2018, a pre- and post-research study on Nestlé Wellness Campus showed increased nutrition knowledge among students and parents. Moreover, the pupils registered an improvement in their nutrition behavior, with more of them consuming healthier food choices such as fruits, vegetables, chicken and fish. Their water intake had also increased. These findings indicate progress on the part of Nestlé Wellness Campus in contributing to the formation of healthy lifestyle habits among the children.
“Thank you for giving us the chance to partner with you. As you know, nutrition is at the core of what we do, and therefore nutrition education is very important and close to our hearts. We will make sure that our program on nutrition stays relevant to the kids. We’re very impressed by what you do with parents as well, and we can assist you in terms of improving the knowledge of parents in nutrition,” Atty. Mascenon said.
Nestlé Wellness Campus is the biggest nutrition, health and wellness program that Nestlé has undertaken in the country by far, aiming to reach as many schoolchildren as possible. Education will play an important role in addressing the nutritional and fitness status of children, and it is hoped that Nestlé Wellness Campus will continue to help improve the overall health of young Filipinos.