Friday, October 5, 2007

A new website to facilitate healthy lifestyle promotion in primary schools in the Netherlands

Last Wednesday the Netherlands Heart Foundation, the Netherlands Nutrition Foundation and the Netherlands Dairy Foundation launched a new web portal to help policy makers, school boards, teachers and parents to make sense out of the great variety of instruments, interventions and educational materials that are meant to contribute to school-based health promotion (see; ‘gezonderwijs’ is Dutch for healthy and smart) .
A symposium with parents, teachers, schoolchildren, policy makers and scientists was held to describe and illustrate why such a portal is useful, and to discuss different avenues for promoting healthful nutrition and physical activity habits among primary schoolchildren. I was one of the speakers. I congratulated the organisers with their initiative but also argued that a web portal with health education possibilities will not be enough to ensure healthy behaviours among our youth; environmental changes are needed. One of the teachers showed a very nice example. The picture shows the school playing ground that was transformed into a multiple sports arena.
Another interesting thing was that the Netherlands Dairy Foundation was one of the initiators. Is this a good public-private partnership to promote health, or another illustration of how ‘objective’ health education and food marketing are intertwined?