Partnership seeks to bring health education to the next generation, leaders said.
Published on: 08-21-2023
Sanitarium Health Food, an Adventist company based in Australia, has invested AU$200,000 (about US$130,000) in a partnership with not-for-profit organization Life Ed and its much-loved mascot, Healthy Harold, to bring health education to the next generation.
“The Inside Story,” a health module designed to empower children to make healthy choices, is expected to engage more than 100,000 kids in its first three years, company leaders said.
The company has also given an additional AU$125,000 (about US$81,000) to Life Ed, enabling at least 10,000 more children from underprivileged areas to receive health education. The module provides information on sustaining a balanced diet, which not only supports the body but is also critical for a range of positive outcomes including mental wellbeing, learning, and healthy development.
The initiative addresses recent research from Sanitarium Health Food Company which found that 44 percent of parents are concerned their young children can’t make healthy food choices.1
Despite 73 percent of parents being confident about where to find nutrition advice for their family, 38 percent feel they can’t influence their child’s food choices. Another concerning statistic is that 46 percent of parents are anxious about their children’s weight, mirroring national data showing that one in four school children are overweight or obese.2
However, the survey reveals that parents’ top concerns are their children’s mental health or mood (91 percent) followed by academic performance (67 percent), which research increasingly shows are explicitly affected by the food children put in their bodies.
Trish Guy, an Accredited Practicing Dietitian in Sanitarium’s Nutrition Insights team, stressed that children are influenced by many external factors during their long school hours. “Raising healthy kids is a whole-of-community responsibility and something we’ve passionately believed in at Sanitarium for 125 years. Our partnership with Life Ed supports even more primary school kids and their families to make positive decisions about their health for the long term,” Guy said.
The curriculum-aligned module is specifically designed for year 3 and year 4 children to learn about the interconnectedness of body systems and how they impact physical health and wellbeing. Using innovative technology, including augmented reality, to bring this to life, the module is now available in schools around the country.
It comes at a critical time, as children born today in some parts of Australia have a shorter expected lifespan than 10 years ago due to rising obesity rates, highlighting the importance of learning about healthy choices early to help build longer and ultimately happier lives.3
Lisa Woodward from Life Ed praised Sanitarium’s support and explained that the module’s immersive approach to health education “offers kids the chance to join a team of young scientists who shrink Healthy Harold to fit inside a human body. [The will be able to] explore everything they need to keep healthy, from oxygen and water to the nutrients which provide the energy needed to learn and play.”
1. Sanitarium Health Food Company engaged an Australian market research agency, Fiftyfive5, part of Accenture Song, to design and conduct an online attitudinal survey of 508 parents of children aged 4-12 years who live in Australia. The survey was conducted in May 2023.
2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022.