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POPTFN: Advocating a Healthy Lifestyle to Raise Healthy Kids

Filipino children today live in an age where things are going instant and processed, at the same time, digital and virtual. Today’s commercialism has influenced kids to rather stay indoors, take fast-food meals, junk food and sodas while watching their favorite show on TV or play computer games.

Countless kids now lead sedentary lifestyles, which, if continued for a long time, can result in, obesity and other lifestyle diseases including hypertension and diabetes. And although parents play a significant role in watching over their kids’ health, schools and health organizations play an equally important role in educating children to develop proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle practices to prevent the development of these diseases.

The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists Philippine Chapter (AACE-PC) launched the POPTFN (Power of Prevention Through Fitness and Nutrition) program in 2007. It was subsequently integrated into the curriculum of a number of schools in the country. Dr. Florence Amorado-Santos, chair of the Committee on Social Projects of the AACE-PC shares with us the nature of the POPTFN program.

How it works
The POPTFN program shares five modules on proper nutrition and physical activity, which where incorporated in the curriculum of sixth grade Science or Physical Education classes of participating schools. The modules include an orientation on the significance of good nutrition, knowledge about the different body systems, the vitamins which our bodies need, proper serving or meal sizes, what comprise a healthy meal, and the value of physical activity.

As of this year, six schools have participated and successfully integrated the program in their curricula. These include the De La Salle Santiago Zobel School and the PAREF Woodrose School in Alabang, St. Scholastica’s College and St. Peter the Apostle School in Manila, St. Bridget College in Batangas City, and St. Joseph College in Olongapo.

Prior to the POPTFN launch, the AACE-PC, specifically, the Obesity and Nutrition Task Force in charge of the program, conducted a small workshop entitled “Train-the-Trainors”, which aptly trained the teachers of the program the latest information on proper nutrition and lifestyle, and how to impart it to the students. The teachers also served as the AACE-PC’s coordinators for the program.

The program is built into the curriculum according to the timeline of the school, and at the end of it, students who finish the modules are given the POPTFN certificate and the official AACE-PC pedometer. The POPTFN program is one of the advocacies of the mother society of the AACE. It was started in the United States in 2002, and was launched here in the country on November 1], 2007, as part of the project of the Obesity and Nutrition Task Force of the AACE-Philippine Chapter.

Another component of the project is the SEAALA (Senator Edgardo Angara Active Lifestyle Award) or the medal of excellence for health-conscious students.

The nature of the SEAALA

At the end of the POPTFN program, each school chooses its candidate for the SEAALA. In the process, two students per class are chosen, and they are met by the AACE-PC representative for briefings regarding the criteria for selecting the awardees. The students are given an activity and food diary which are to be filled up for thirty days. For the first fifteen days, they will log the different kinds of food they have eaten, whether healthy or unhealthy. The last fifteen days will be a log of all their activities. Afterwards, the candidates undergo a final exam prepared by the POPTFN committee.

However, these are not the only criteria in choosing the awardees. It also includes the pre- and post-test scores conducted during the modules, and most importantly, their performance for the duration of the program.

Its future goals
Since the program is still quite new, having been in the curriculum of a limited number of schools in the country, it hopes to be developed further. The POPTFN Committee plans to increase the number of private schools which will participate in the said program, and once streamlined, it envisions to be incorporated in the curriculum of public schools in the country.

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