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August 3, 2016

United for Healthier Kids Movement comes to Pakistan


August 3, 2016


The United for Healthier Kids movement, which aims to instill healthier habits in children, was launched in Pakistan at an event organised here on Tuesday by Nestlé Pakistan at a local hotel where various partners came together to pledge ‘behtar kal, aaj se’ – a better future for Pakistan’s children. Minister of Planning, development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal was invited as a chief guest on the occasion.

United for Healthier Kids, a behaviour change movement for children aged 3-12 years, is partnered by Nestlé Pakistan, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, Lahore Grammar School, Jang Media Group, Geo Network, Service Sales Corporation, Silver Oaks School and Parwaan, and others. The movement aims to help parents establish healthier eating, drinking, and lifestyle habits in children through game-changing education and fun ideas to inspire action and influence behaviour.

The Healthier Kids Movement with its partners would work on three major behaviours which is to make children aware of the importance of healthy living by ‘Move more and sit less’, ‘Drinking more water than other drinks’, and ‘Choose nutritious options like fruits and vegetables.’

Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal while speaking on the occasion said, “A healthy nation is pivotal to economic and social development which is one of the major pillars in the Vision 2025 plan, and our collaboration with the United for Healthier Kids Movement is a step in the same direction. Our government is committed to realizing Sustainable Development Roles (SDGs) which seeks collaboration between government and private sectors. Our partnership is in the spirit of synergising resources of public and private sectors for a healthier Pakistan. Many children have died because of malnutrition rather than terrorism, so this is the biggest challenge we are facing now in Pakistan,” he said.

While talking to ‘The News’,  Sarmad Ali of Jang Group  said that today Jang Media Group is extremely pleased to become a partner in this initiative with Nestle to introduce healthy habits amongst children. It is pertinent to introduce it in children because when such seeds are implanted early in life, the habits become permanent as adults. “As Nestle is initiating the campaign, it is just fair to encourage children to drink lots of water, and take fruits and vegetables regularly. It's better than consuming junk food. Jang Group has always been in the forefront to aware people regarding their health by conducting various seminars with health experts and this initiative is also another step in making people aware of the right choices they make in their lives,” he said.

“Besides, seeing Service here as another partner is heartening as they will help encourage more physical activity than sitting idle. Children should be encouraged to spend time in outdoor games rather than sitting on their computers or tabs. We, as media partners, will go all out to help this initiative as we realize our position as responsible citizens and media house of Pakistan. We will go all out to maximise the reach U4HK needs and believe that being the biggest Media House of Pakistan we will be able to spread the awareness in the corners of the country where companies usually don't reach,” he said.

It is alarming to note that according to the facts provided by Nestle, Pakistan is one of the 34 countries that carry 90% of the global malnutrition burden, with under-nutrition in children and over-children in adults, 43.7% are stunted, 31.5% are Underweight, 89% people are under-hydrated in winters, 54% people are under-hydrated in summers and 62% of the children in Pakistan are anaemic, resulting in 1 out of 3 children to be iron deficient. We have similar numbers for other micronutrients.

The experts were of the opinion that the reasons that has seriously jeopardised the health of children are due to changing balance of indoor and outdoor recreation in urban society, Schools in residential buildings so no play grounds are available for sports activities, teachers in schools give more preference to studies versus sports, preference for sweet, fizzy drinks over water and kids prefer junk food to fruits and vegetables.

The nutritional and health conditions in Pakistan have reached an alarming level over the past decade. Currently, Pakistan has the third highest number of children suffering from stunted growth; 43.7% of the total children under the age of 5 suffer from it. 15.1% are wasted and 31.5% are found to be underweight.

The United for Healthier Kids movement will work closely with its partner organisations to address three major behaviours – Move More Sit Less, Choose to Drink Water and Choose Nutritiously Varied Food Options – by not only creating awareness and educating parents’ on different obstacles but also outlining proposed solutions for raising healthier kids.

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