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Health is...

Children in Utrecht have a broad view of what health is
If you ask elementary school children in Utrecht, health is a broad and diverse topic. According to them, it is about nutrition, exercise, feelings, looking after yourself and a green and healthy environment.

According to children, health has many aspects, such as: fruits and vegetables, moving, happiness, trees and playing outside.
65 children from Utrecht did a project about health
We asked 65 children from three school classes (aged 10-11) in Utrecht what they think health is. We talked to them because a discussion is going on all around the world about what the concept of health is. In addition, the municipality of Utrecht wants to draw more attention to the voice of children by involving them in policy and research. The children creatively depicted what health means to them by drawing, writing, cutting and pasting. Afterwards, we discussed the creations with one another.

Most of the children think of fruit and vegetables when it comes to health
Almost all children from the three school classes mention fruit and vegetables when they think about health. According to the children, eating healthily is important to make sure we get enough nutrients into the body, such as vitamins. A healthy diet also provides energy. Hydration in the form of drinking water is necessary so that we don't dry out. Children mention all sorts of products that they think are healthy, but they often find it difficult to explain why they are healthy.

A number of children say that it is important not to eat too much or too little and to make sure that your diet is balanced. Children also give examples of healthy alternatives to unhealthy foods or show that they are trying to choose the least unhealthy variant.

Children in Utrecht often mention sports and exercise when talking about health
More than half of the children mentioned sport and exercise. The children say that they think sport is healthy because it gives you energy and makes you fit. It is also a way to burn body fat and lose weight.

The children say that participating in sports and playing outdoors make you happy and make you feel good. Also because of the contact with other children. Children say that they pay more attention to what they eat and drink by participating in sports. On the other hand, sports activities can make you hungry, making you more likely to eat too much or unhealthily. Children also mention that sitting too much, for example at a computer, is not healthy.

Children in Utrecht also think of being happy and joyful when it comes to health
Many of the children say that laughing and being happy is healthy. The conversations show that happiness and health are closely linked. Being joyful makes you happy, and if you’re happy, you feel healthy. Having family and friends around you, whose company you enjoy or who support you if you are sick, also make you happy. Also being comfortable with yourself and having fun in what you do are mentioned when talking about health. The children also say that feelings can affect how healthy your lifestyle is. If you are sad, there is a tendency to eat unhealthily. If you are happy, you will have more energy to go outside and participate in sports.

For children, health is being outdoors in nature
When thinking of health, many children think of being outside, surrounded by nature. It feels healthy to be out in nature, with trees, fresh air and clean water. Harmful substances from traffic and companies can pollute the air, and that is not healthy. Flowers and plants make you feel happy. In addition, the children say that being outside in the sun is important for getting enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for your bones.

Taking good care of yourself and your body is also part of being healthy
In conversations, children in Utrecht give all sorts of examples that show that they consider looking after yourself and your body are all part of good health. The children say that sleep is important to let the body rest and to get new energy for the next day. Resting for a moment now and then is also important for the brain and muscles to recharge. Brushing your teeth is necessary to keep your teeth healthy.

The children also listed things that are unhealthy in the conversations
Children mention things that they think are unhealthy. Obesity is unhealthy, but being underweight is also not good for the body. In addition, smoking and drugs are bad for your health and are addictive. For example, smoking can cause lung cancer. Alcohol consumption was mentioned once. The children say that it is important not to use these substances in order to stay healthy.

Sickness and health care were not mentioned often by the children
The children in Utrecht do not often think of illnesses and healthcare when talking about health. They mentioned having a healthy heart a number of times. Some of the children said that viruses and bacteria can cause diseases. Medicines, such as antibiotics, can help to heal. You can take paracetamol when you have a headache or stomach ache. Doctors and hospitals were mentioned occasionally to help you get better.

The Positive Health Children's Tool provides insight into the concept of health for children
Because of the global discussion about the concept of health, we have
contributed to the establishment of the Positive Health Children's Tool, together with the Institute for Positive Health, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, Stichting Child and Hospital, the University of Utrecht and UMCG. Many children were interviewed in detail for this about what health means to them. The results of this study also show that children have a broad view of what health is. The spider diagram shows that children are not only aware of physical health, but also of their day-to-day lives, participating and feeling good in your body.

By drawing, writing, cutting and pasting, the children demonstrate what health is according to them: