Motivating children to reduce risk for future disease can only be effective within a framework of personal involvement and peer interaction. The 'Know Your Body' programme of disease prevention is attempting to achieve this goal by means of medical screening for risk factors, giving students their own results in a 'Health Passport', and following up with educational activities integrated into existing school curricula. Didactic teaching alone has been unsuccessful because children cannot relate information about diseases in adult life to themselves. Screening for risk factors provides the 'reality factor' which makes health education pertinent and personal, since approximately half of all students screened will already have one or more risk factors for heart disease, cancer or stroke. This high prevalence of risk factors among our children suggests that chronic-disease prevention must assume a critically important position within the health and science curricula of every school. It is as important to teach our children healthy ways of living as it is to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic.
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