Sanitarium enlists iconic Healthy Harold to teach Aussie kids the recipe for healthier lives

Half of Aussie parents are worried about their kids’ ability to make healthy food choices

More health education is needed to improve Australian children’s diets, according to new research which reveals that almost half (44%) of parents of young school children (aged 4-12) are concerned that their children don’t know how to make healthy food choices.1

The national survey from Sanitarium Health Food Company exposes a disconnect between what parents know about healthy eating and what their children ultimately choose to eat. Despite three quarters of parents (73%) feeling confident that they know where to find nutrition advice for their family, over a third (38%) still feel unable to influence their children’s food choices. Schools, peers and the media also have a significant impact on what kids choose to eat.

Nearly half of parents (46%) are worried about their children’s weight and physical size, reflecting national data that indicates one in four young school children (aged 5-14) are overweight or obese2. However, the survey reveals that parents’ top concerns are their children’s mental health or mood (91%) followed by academic performance (67%) which research increasingly shows are explicitly impacted by the food children put in their bodies.

In response, Sanitarium has partnered with not-for-profit organisation, Life Ed, and its much-loved mascot, Healthy Harold, to launch ‘The Inside Story’, a health module designed to empower children to make healthy choices.

Expected to reach more than 100,000 kids in the first three years, the module provides information on sustaining a balanced diet, which not only supports the body, but it is also critical for a range of positive outcomes including mental wellbeing, learning and development.

Trish Guy, an Accredited Practising Dietitian from Sanitarium’s Nutrition Insights team, said: “It’s clear that Australian parents want the best for their children and have a strong desire for them to eat well. Yet, the average child spends over 30 hours a week in school and is exposed to a myriad of other external influences, so it’s not realistic that a parent alone can fully influence a child's eating habits.”

Guy continues, “Raising healthy kids is a whole-of-community responsibility and something we’ve passionately believed in at Sanitarium for 125 years. Our partnership with Life Ed supports even more primary school kids and their families to make positive decisions about their health for the long-term.”

The curriculum-aligned module is specifically designed for year 3 and year 4 children to learn about the interconnectedness of body systems and how they impact physical health and wellbeing. Using innovative technology including augmented reality to bring this to life, the module is now available in schools around the country.

It comes at a critical time, as children born today in some parts of Australia have a shorter expected lifespan than 10 years ago due to rising obesity rates, highlighting the importance of learning about healthy choices early to help build longer and ultimately happier lives.3

Lisa Woodward, Life Ed’s Professional Learning Manager, commented: “It is incredible to have Sanitarium’s backing to make learning fun and really innovate health education through this new module. It offers kids the chance to join a team of young scientists who shrink Healthy Harold to fit inside a human body and explore everything they need to keep healthy from oxygen and water, to the nutrients which provide the energy needed to learn and play.”

Woodward continues, “At Life Ed, we believe that every child deserves to thrive. We know that the foundations of healthy, safe and happy lives are built during these important early years.”

The partnership, which reflects a grant of $200,000 to fund the module, is the latest initiative from Sanitarium as it celebrates 125 years of nourishing Aussie families with affordable healthy foods, promoting health education and supporting communities in need. Founded with the core purpose of helping Australians to live well, Sanitarium is committed to make access to healthy choices easier for all Australians.

Sanitarium has also given Life Ed an additional $125,000 to help at least 10,000 more kids from schools in disadvantaged areas access health education over the next three years.

To learn more about The Inside Story, visit The Inside Story - Life Ed Australia

Last updated 25 July 2023

  1. Sanitarium Health Food Company engaged an Australian market research agency, Fiftyfive5, part of Accenture Song, to design and conduct an online attitudinal survey of 508 parents of children aged 4-12 years old who live in Australia. The survey was conducted in May 2023.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2022
  3. Health and Wellbeing Queensland 2022