Missão Continente School: First Community Nutrition and Health Program evaluated at national level

In order to reverse the progress of childhood obesity in Portugal, Missão Continente School will assess, for the first time, the impact of this educational program for healthy eating, in 44 primary schools (years 1 to 4), for 4 consecutive years (2021- 2025). It is the first study in a program for community nutrition and health, of this size, in Portugal.

Missão Continente School, created in 2016, sensitizes primary schools’ students (years 1 to 4) to healthy eating, conscientious consumption and an active lifestyle. In this 2021-2022 academic year, the program will also extend to Pre-School and primary schools (years 5 and 6), with the goal of involving 600 schools.

The scientific impact measurement study will accompany primary schools’ students, enrolled in the Missão Continente School program, addressing the "Mediterranean Diet - a healthy, sustainable and conscious option" general theme, where, each year, a specific program will be applied with integrated content, adjusted to the children's ages. All classes enrolled in the Program will address four themes over the program’s 4 years of follow-up.

This is one of the first studies involving a community nutrition and health program, with national dimension, that will include 44 primary schools, representing the 18 Districts of Mainland Portugal, and including 2 districts from Madeira and the Azores as well”, says Ana Rito, President Director of the Centre for Studies and Research in Social Dynamics and Health (CEIDSS) and Researcher at the Doctor Ricardo Jorge National Institute of Health (INSA), who coordinates the study.

This study also intends to counteract the likely impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the progress of childhood obesity in Portugal, where 1 in 3 children is overweight”, says Ana Rito, coordinator of the study.

As of this school year, Missão Continente School expands its scope by integrating new generations - Pre-School and years 5 and 6 of primary schools. By 2025, it will extend to Secondary Education and Senior Universities.

Missão Continente School also has three national personalities who stand out in the ​​sport, food and entertainment areas, as official ambassadors for the next school year: presenter Francisco Garcia, as Missão Continente School’s Preschool ambassador; presenter and food writer Filipa Gomes, as primary school (years 1 to 4) ambassador; and the Women's National Soccer Team player, Jéssica Silva, as primary school (years 5 and 6) ambassador.

Schools interested in joining the Project can apply, from September 20th, on the Missão Continente’s website at missao.continente.pt/escola.

This is one of the social responsibility projects most cherished by Missão Continente due to its scope and the impact that we aspire to have on further generations. In 2016, we started with a pilot project that involved 18 schools and 960 students and, in this last school year, we reached 437 schools and 40,619 students. We want this 2021-2022 school year to be a year of real change! We hope to promote a difference in behaviour, involving around 600 Pre-School and primary schools. It is also with great pride that we have established a partnership with CEIDSS, which will carry out the first scientific impact measurement study in a program of this scope and at a national level. More than healthy eating and conscientious consumption, we want to promote an active lifestyle, covering various age groups in this process. It only makes sense for us to create a healthy generation, if we manage to impact all other generations on these topics, which are very important to society as a whole”, says Nádia Reis, Continente's Director of Communication and Social Responsibility.

José Carlos Sousa, Director of Educational Projects Services at the Directorate-General for Education, explains, “This type of project is fundamental for the education of future generations. We very much believe in the impact and in the results that will be obtained, and that will certainly allow for making decisions that will improve the well-being and health of children and young people in our schools”.

The Portuguese Football Federation has had a relationship for several years with Continente, which is even the official sponsor of the men's, women's and under 21 football teams. This partnership has now strengthened, with the involvement of the Portuguese Football Federation in the development of initiatives that involve physical activity, a common theme for both entities. It is always with enthusiasm that we contribute to the promotion of active lifestyles in all generations”, says Nuno Moura, Marketing and New Business Director at the Portuguese Football Federation.

Missão Continente School has as institutional partners the General Directorate of Health, CEIDSS – Centre for Studies and Research in Social Dynamics and Health, the São João University Hospital Centre (CHUSJ), the University of Porto’s Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical Sciences and the Portuguese Football Federation, as well as institutional support from the Directorate-General for Education.

Continente's Educational Program aims to impact students, teachers, parents and the entire school community, making the youngest aware of healthy eating and healthy lifestyles as well as educating them on conscious and sustainable consumption. Throughout the school year, it provides content, educational activities, challenges (with associated prizes), educational play materials and field visits. Since the beginning of the program (2016/2017), more than 100,000 children from primary schools across the country (mainland and islands) have been involved.

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