Nestlé Healthy Kids Program – Ajyal Salima’s Children Nutrition Education Program in Dubai Outlined at 1st EPODE International Network Workshop in the Emirate Focusing on Childhood Obesity Prevention

Dubai, 21 February 2013:The Nestlé Healthy Kids Program – Ajyal Salima’s children nutrition education program in Dubai shared local experience and explored similar initiatives from around the world with the globally-recognized leader in the field – the EPODE International Network – at a workshop that gathered government officials, local stakeholders and international experts.

“Ajyal Salima” – a collaboration between Nestlé Middle East; the Dubai Health Authority; the Dubai Education Zone; and the Princess Haya Initiative for the Development of Health, Physical Education & School Sports – was launched in Dubai in September 2012 with a first phase planned to span over two years during which it will reach grade 4 and 5 students in 29 government schools, including 13 boys’ and 16 girls’ schools.

“We were happy to share the plans and ongoing implementation details of “Ajyal Salima” with the EPODE International Network and to hear from them about well-established outreaches elsewhere which like our program aim to improve public health through behavioral change, especially among children as they are most receptive to cultivating healthy eating habits into adulthood, ensuring a healthier tomorrow for our future generations,” said Dr Fathia Hatim Al-Maazmi, Head of the Health Promotion Section at the Dubai Health Authority.

EPODE’s participation also provided the meeting with an exceptional opportunity to discuss concrete solutions for the implementation of a sustainable community-based program for childhood obesity prevention in Dubai and the Middle East.

The Nestlé Healthy Kids Global Program was launched in 2009 and is implemented today in 60 countries in cooperation with governments, academic institutions and various organizations.

“The Program aims to raise nutrition, health and wellness awareness of school children aged 9 to 11,” explained Karine Antoniades Turk, Program Manager, Nestlé Healthy Kids Middle East. “It involves 12 educational sessions per round, including interactive learning and hands-on activities on nutrition, healthy eating and physical activity; as well as questionnaires developed to track improvement of children from pre to post interventions.”

The “Ajyal Salima” curriculum was developed by the American University of Beirut to answer to regional community issues and addresses nutritional habits and requirements. Evidence-based results from the first pilot program conducted in Lebanon have shown it improves knowledge and certain behavioral aspects among children.

In Dubai, the first “train the trainer” workshop was held in January, bringing AUB experts to the Emirate to present the various elements of “Ajyal Salima” to teachers from local schools. Implementation in classrooms has since been launched, with the first phase of the Program slated for completion in January 2014.