Four Years After Launch in Schools, Education Ministry Adopts Nutrition Awareness Program Nestlé Healthy Kids – Ajyal Salima into Lebanese School Health Education Unit Curriculum

Move follows research-based evidence that the American University of Beirut-developed Program doubles vegetables consumption among children, and increases nutrition awareness threefold

Beirut, 19 November 2014: The Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education is establishing another first in the Middle East by incorporating nutrition awareness into its Health Education Unit’s curriculum through the full adoption of the “Nestlé Healthy Kids Program – Ajyal Salima,” demonstrated in an American University of Beirut (AUB) study1 to lead nine-eleven year-olds to have better eating habits and increase their general nutrition awareness threefold.

Since its 2010 launch by AUB and Nestlé with the support of the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Nestlé Healthy Kids – Ajyal Salima has reached more than 140 schools and 11,000 students across Lebanon. The Ministry is now expanding dissemination, and monitoring implementation in all governorates thanks to its extensive School Health Unit network of educators nationwide.

From left to right: Mr. George Daoud, Director of Primary Education, representing the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. Mrs. Karine Antoniades Turk, Manager from Nestlé Healthy Kids in the Nestlé Middle East. Dr. Carla Habib-Mourad Program’s scientific coordinator, nutritionist from American University of Beirut. Mrs. Sonia Najem Director of the Health Education Unit at Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education.

“Ajyal Salima has proved to be a great success over the four years we’ve been implementing it in our schools with expert support by a team from AUB, and we are now more than confident it is a beneficial tool to include in the health education unit’s national programs to help sustainably combat growing childhood obesity rates and improve nutrition awareness,” said Fady Yarak, Director General of Education at the Lebanese Ministry of Education & Higher Education.

“We couldn’t be happier that the Program scientifically-developed3 by AUB for the Middle East as “Kanz Al-Soha” is now becoming an integrated part of Lebanon’s school health education,” added Dr. Nahla Hwalla, AUB’s Faculty of Agriculture & Food Sciences Dean. “This is a crucial step in improving public health among the general population of the country.”

“Peer reviewed published evidence1 of palpable differences in attitudes towards various dietary habits among students who completed Program sessions, compared to those who didn’t, provided concrete proof of impact and helped us take Ajyal Salima the extra mile,” said the Program’s scientific coordinator, celebrity-nutritionist Dr. Carla Habib-Mourad.

“Nestlé is globally committed to nurturing healthier generations and creating shared value for communities through long-term partnerships with local authorities and experts,” said Nestlé Healthy Kids Middle East Program Manager Karine Antoniades Turk. “The Nestlé Healthy Kids Program – Ajyal Salima has been one of our main collaborative initiatives in the Middle East, which we have also rolled out in Dubai in 2012 and in Saudi Arabia earlier this year in partnership with local governments and other entities.”

“Train the Trainers” workshops designed by AUB have been equipping teachers and health educators to run the Program successfully in 4th and 5th grades.

“Childhood obesity is estimated to have doubled2 in Lebanon in the past decade,” concluded Sonia Najem, Director of the Health Education Unit at the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education. “We are now solidifying the implementation of Ajyal Salima as well as other programs because we know that preventive measures should start early in life and that schools are an important environment to promote healthy behaviors.”

For more information, please contact:

Lynn Al Khatib, Nestlé Middle East, email: Lynn.AlKhatib@ae.nestle.com

&/or Jean Akouri, Director, Akouri Communications.

P.O Box 16-5697, Beirut, Lebanon. Phone: +961-3-571579. email: jean@akouricom.com

About the Nestlé Healthy Kids Global Program

The Nestlé Healthy Kids Global Program aims to raise nutrition, health and wellness awareness of school age children around the world. It is a Nestlé Creating Shared Value initiative to promote healthy living among children. Launched globally in 2009, the Program runs in partnership with governments, academia, and NGOs in over 68 countries around the world reaching to date around six million kids.

About Nestlé Healthy Kids Ajyal Salima

Part of the Global Program, the “Ajyal Salima” curriculum was developed by the American University of Beirut3 to answer specifically to Middle Eastern community issues and address children nutritional habits and requirements. It encompasses three components that include classroom educational sessions consisting of interactive learning and hands-on activities, healthy eating, and physical activity; parental involvement; and interventions at the school shop/canteen level.

* References:

1. Habib-Mourad C., Ghandour L.A, Moore H.J, Nabhani-Zeidan M, Adetayo K, Hwalla N, Summerbell C. Promoting Healthy eating and physical activity among school children: findings from the Health-E-PALS, the first pilot intervention from Lebanon. BMC Public Health 2014, 14:940 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-940

2. Nasreddine L, Naja N, Chamieh M.C., Adra N, Sibai A.M., Hwalla N: Trends in overweight and obesity in Lebanon: evidence from two national cross-sectional surveys (1997 and 2009). BMC Public Health 2012, 12:798

3. Habib-Mourad C., Moore H.J, Nabhani-Zeidan M, Hwalla N, Summerbell C. Health-E-PALS: promoting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Lebanese school children – Intervention development. Educ Health 2014,32. http://sheu.org.uk/x/eh321chm.pdf.