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July 27, 2017

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Nestle has a new kind of triangle to guide kids' health

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Nestle Healthy Kids Global Program, now in its eighth year, has set its sights on teaching something new in 2017: the Healthy Kids Golden Triangle of "healthy eating," "happy exercising" and "every day."

Nestle partnered with the John Tung Foundation earlier this year for the "14 Days of Good Habits Challenge," which eventually led to the selection of the first Nestle Healthy Kids ambassadors from 20,000 participants.

At a press event Monday, singer and new mom Ella Chen promoted the benefits of a balanced diet and regular exercise.

To picky eaters who don't eat all their vegetables, Chen had a story to share. Her mother, she said, used to make fresh carrot juice for her.

Although she didn't like it at first, Chen continued, she kept forcing it down and gradually learned to love the healthful drink.

She said children naturally feel uncomfortable with new food if parents make a big deal about it. If you tell a child not to fear a carrot, they will see it as something worth being fearful of before they even taste.

Rather, she said, parents should take it easy. Children are more likely to embrace a food if they just try it first.

Hsu Hui-yu, director of the John Tung Foundation's Food and Nutrition Division, was also on hand Monday to encourage people to develop good eating habits, saying: "Having a good fortunate is not as beneficial as having good habits."

Hsu said that children are more willing to accept foods they don't like if their friends can eat with them.

She cited a study published last year in the American Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior that found children aged 3-5 who watched a video showing other children eating vegetables ate 15.5 grams more veggies compared with kids who didn't watch it. And the gap grew even wider after a week.

A 14-day Challenge

Nestle Healthy Kids Global Program, along with the John Tung Foundation and participating schools, recently organized the "Healthy Kids Ambassador Election: 14 Days of Good Habits Challenge/" The first stage encouraged children to drink water and consume whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables every day, and to exercise for 30 minutes or more a day.

Parents and teachers were asked to sign off log books of the children's eating and exercise habits as well as to shoot experience-sharing videos, which were uploaded to the campaign website. Some 100 children joined the race and 24 made it to the finals.

Children in Hsinchu County's Shanchi Elementary School continued to report their progress, even after the challenge had ended.

"By combining education and entertainment, the program has reached more than 30,000 children," Adrian Ho, the general manager of Nestle Taiwan, said. "We will expand the partnership to five special municipalities including Tainan and Taichung."

Long-term Healthy Habits

There is a difference between doing something and making it a regular habit. To get healthy habits ingrained, Chen recommended setting and sharing goals with friends.

"It gives us something to talk about. They will keep you company. This makes it less boring," she said.

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