Combatting Childhood Obesity and Promoting Healthful Nutrition in Israel
Hardly a day goes by without a new story appearing in the media about the prevalence of childhood obesity, both here in the States and in much of the developed world. While many people in Israel are living a healthy lifestyle, there are also a significant number of disadvantaged families who lack the knowledge and the opportunity to do so. To help break the cycle of poor health typical among children at risk, JDC-Ashalim’s Nutrition Enrichment and Healthy Living Program is addressing rising rates of obesity, poor nutrition, and disease by providing children, parents, and professionals with essential information and the skills to improve dietary, physical fitness, and dental care habits.
The program currently operates in 22 cities and is reaching some 19,000 children and 6,250 parents annually. A new project to promote the health of young families from low socio-economic backgrounds will target pregnant women, infants, and toddlers at risk.
As part of this overall initiative, a model Health Promotion Garden has been giving nearby schoolchildren the opportunity to absorb healthy messaging in a unique, hands-on way. By growing vegetables and herbs from seedlings, the children learn the importance of healthy eating, keep physically active, and develop an awareness of their surroundings—of the earth and water and how they affect their health. During the past year, some 600 students from third through sixth grade, and 300 kindergarteners and first graders took part in gardening activities.
JDC is thankful to our late friend, Professor Stanley Mills z"l, for spearheading this endeavor, and to Barbara and Jack Kay of the S&P Philanthropic Fund at the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, whose generosity has turned Stanley’s vision into reality, enabling us to help raise a generation of children who are well nourished, healthy, and fit.
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