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Health and Dietary Education in Child Science at the General Meeting of the China National Society of Early Childhood Education in Changchun

The Sixth Conference of the Association of Health Education for Young Children of the China National Society of Early Childhood Education, hosted by Northeast Normal University, was held in Changchun in the Northeast District from August 16 to 18. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to give the keynote speech on "Health of Children before School-Age, Considerations by Child Science", and both Professor Yoichi Sakakihara of the Research Center for Child and Adolescent Development and Education at Ochanomizu University and I took part in the Pre-school Nutrition and Public Health Committees hosted by CRN.

Changchun is a city in Jilin Province that has a strong relationship with Japan in many respects. As it is located less than two hours by plane from its Japanese sister city, Sendai, and with only a one-hour time difference between the two cities, the trip was very comfortable.

The opening ceremony of the conference was held on the morning of August 16 in the auditorium of Northeast Normal University before an audience of about 300 that included university faculty, nursery school teachers and child care providers. The ceremony was followed by a special address given by Professor Jiaxiong Zhu of Shanghai Normal University and Chair of the China National Society of Early Childhood, after which I had the keynote speech.
According to the definition of the WHO, health is not simply the absence of illness, but should be considered a human state of physical, psycho-spiritual, and social well-being. Health issues are thus addressed from the viewpoint of human science, and in the case of children, it is Child Science that addresses the health and issues of children. As I explained in my lecture, Child Science is an interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and comprehensive approach to the study of children and children's issues.

My speech also touched on the perspectives of child ecology and brain science which form the foundation of Child Science. I explained that growth and development are strong indices of children's health and provided specific case studies of weight problems among children suffering from emotional or maternal deprivation syndrome. From the point of view of child ecology, I also talked about the public health system for children in Japan, introducing programs for vaccination, child-care counseling, and the mother-child notebook to keep a record of checkups, etc. While these institutional practices are certainly important, my speech also stressed the significance of non-institutional aspects, so-called "soft" factors to children's health. I concluded by pointing out that it is important to provide children with a "joie de vivre" or a "joy for living" which includes the "joy of playing" and the "joy of learning".

The participants separated into three committees in the afternoon. We took part in the Pre-school Nutrition and Public Health Committees hosted by CRN and Professor Sakakihara presented his research findings on the relationship between diet and sleep rhythms and children's behavior and emphasized the importance of dietary education. My talk also asserted the importance of dietary education to children's health and introduced data of the Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine of the Juntendo University School of Medicine indicating that children who are obese at the age of three are more likely to still be obese at the age of six. I emphasized the need to establish regular eating habits by the age of three, beginning with breastfeeding, through dietary education by the mother and child-care provider.

Since the 1970s, I have visited China more than ten times, but as first visit to the Northeast District, it was truly a memorable trip for me in many respects.
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