by Theodorus Eko Pramudito
Lifestyle of a modern person tends to be far away from what can be considered as healthy. From lack of exercise, unhealthy intake of junk food, and sedentary routine activity, our body is piling up time bombs of cardiovascular disease and other health problems. The worst part is how this lifestyle is beginning to infect the young people especially children, a group that should be exercising more due to their undergoing growth and development. Said lifestyle can lead to problematic cases of childhood obesity among children of the 21st century. In order to counter this problem, several schools in the Netherlands have taken the initiative to create the ‘Lekker Fit!’ program.
What is ‘Lekker Fit!’ program? It is a regional scale program to promote healthy lifestyle in primary and secondary school students through exercise and healthy food. As portrayed by the name of the program, which means ‘enjoy being healthy’, the aim of the program is not only limited to healthy lifestyle and well-being but also making the activity fun and merry. Rotterdam is the first city to implement the ‘Lekker Fit!’ program to its 20,000 students and school officials claim that the program managed to quell the previously rising number of obesity among the youngsters. Inspired by the success of Rotterdam in implementing this healthy lifestyle, other areas all across Netherlands, such as Woudrichem and Amsterdam, began to follow suit.
Rotterdam, despite its image as the ‘sport city’ of the Netherlands, has higher number of childhood obesity compared to the nation’s average number. Childhood obesity drew concern from the city’s officials and dieticians because it leads to fatigue, learning difficulty, loneliness, and bullying to children. There are also looming health risks such as diabetes and backache which can hinder a child’s development. For that reason, several schools decided to band together with dieticians to start the ‘Lekker Fit!’ program.
The whole program is designed for children to partake in. The committee fully realized that the main problem with problem with promoting healthy lifestyle is how to make it enjoyable. To tackle that problem, ‘Lekker Fit!’ involves not only children but the teachers and their parents as well. The committee provides training module for parents so the children can keep practicing healthy lifestyle even if they are not at schools and above all, children won’t feel lonely that they are exercising alone because the teachers and parents will join them with the fun.
Development and improvement are still underway for the program. Right now ‘Lekker Fit!’ has been developed for toddlers, preschoolers, and for teenagers. The committee is also looking for partners to help popularizing the program across the nation. Wageningen University has also joined the program by conducting ‘Expeditie Lekker Fit!’ supplemental research program to analyze the effects of healthy lifestyle to children. This program has shown us how the Dutch has taken the initiative among Western nations to promote healthy and fit lifestyle among the younger generation.