Promoting Healthy Eating Amongst Children


The Eat Smart Campaign held an exciting interactive session with 15 school champions to promote healthy eating amongst teenagers. The intimate “Greet & Meet” event held at Port Moresby Nature Park had Chef Julz Henao speak to children, aged 13 to 17, about nutrition and the importance of having a balanced diet.

“We know food is essential for life, but what food? Most people eat because they feel hungry. Hunger tells us to eat, but it does not tell us what to eat. For it to be a good diet, we need to eat a variety of good food – protein, vegetables and fruits, grains, dairy and fats – in the right quantity.”

The session had representation from 9 NCD schools, including Koki Primary School, Kaugere Primary School, St Peters Primary School, Coronation Primary School, Evedahana Primary School, Bavaroko Primary School, Hagara Primary School, Butuka Primary School, and Sacred Heart Primary School.

Teenagers go through big physical changes in puberty. They need extra nutrition to fuel these physical changes, which means they need to eat healthy food. But Papua New Guinea’s children are facing a nutrition crisis. 46% of the children suffer from stunting, a result of inadequate diets, cost factors and sheer lack of knowledge.

To combat the lack of awareness, the Eat Smart Campaign is taking nutrition education to schools across the capital city in partnership with NGO Equal Playing Field. EPF Coordinator Calvin Ambiangai explained why the Eat Smart Campaign was important for schools. “When children eat well, they can stay focused in school, learn well and meet their potential. But the children who participate in our programs come from a range of different backgrounds.  We observe that there are times when they haven’t eaten anything or haven’t eaten well before school. It impacts their behaviour. Today, we brought 18 ‘Change-Makers’ to this session. They will go back to their schools and educate their peers about healthy eating.”

The aim is to inspire children to make healthy diet choices through games and activities, cooking demonstrations and fun recipes. At Nature Park, the school children enthusiastically participated in discussions over how eating trends have changed over generations, and how to make informed decisions about food. The children were served a healthy lunch, specially prepared by Chef Julz, consisting of Grilled Fish, Salsa Verde and a Turmeric Dressing.

One teenager made an emotional reflection after eating lunch. “This is the first time in a year that I have had vegetables. I moved from my village to the city last year to school and I haven’t been eating healthy since then.”

Another spoke of being more aware of sugar content in snacks. She said, “I didn’t know that some of the snacks I have been eating since my childhood have no nutrition, only high on sugar and salt. After today’s session, I am going to do my best to cut down on junk food.”

For one young girl, it was a dream come true to finally taste food prepared by Chef Julz. “I see his photos on bill-boards, I see him cooking food on TV. I would always imagine what the food would taste like. Today, I am happy to taste it.”

The Eat Smart Campaign and Chef Julz will be visiting 5 schools in the next 2 months, to create awareness on health and nutrition. Our partners – PNG-Aus Partnership, CPL Group, Trukai Industries, Tourism Promotion Authority, Kina Bank and PNG Air – have provided crucial support to the campaign.

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