Importance of Nutrition Among Children
Healthy eating habits are vital to establish during childhood and sustain thereafter. Nourishing, well-balanced diets are essential for proper growth, immunity, physical and mental development, health and well-being, and reduced risk of chronic diseases later in life. Healthcare professionals, parents, and teachers should be aware of common nutrition-related concerns in children and teens, such as dental caries, allergies, anemia, growth retardation, eating disorders, and obesity, and watch for indicators that a child may be at risk for these.
Nutritional problems in school are mainly-
- Eating Disorders
- Blood Cholesterol Level
- Dental Caries
Nutrition in school age children
Maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise is important for all individuals specially school age children 6 to 12 years. Children are required to eat a variety of foods from each food group to ensure optimal intake of all vitamins and minerals at the same time they may face new challenges regarding food choices and habits. Decisions about what to eat are partly determined by what is provided in school, at home, the influences from friends at school and the media especially television.
Poor nutrition compromises both the quality of life of school aged children but also their potential to benefit from education. Foods that comprise a healthy diet for children include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy products, and lean sources of protein. Foods and beverages with low nutrient density and high energy density should be consumed in moderation only, within a child’s discretionary calorie allowance. Although children may need to eat more frequently than adults, they should be taught healthy snacking practices. Role modeling and nutrition education from adults in children’s lives are critical in promoting lifelong healthy eating.
Essential nutrients for the school age children growth significantly but at slower rate, being very physically active in general. As a result their nutritional needs are high and critical. Additional genetic background, gender, body size and shape for all important determinants of nutrient requirements.
Attaining optimum nutrition involves eating three meals a day and two nutritious snacks as well as limiting the intake of high sugar and high fat foods. Consuming generous amounts of fruits, vegetables, lean meat and low fat dairy products, including three servings of milk, cheese or yoghurt to meet their Calcium requirement can also prevent many medical problems. This includes becoming overweight, developing weak bones and developing diabetes. Adequate nutrition of school age children will also ensure they grow to their full potential and provide the stepping stones to a healthy life.
Nutritional Advice for School-age Children
Best advice to keep your children healthy includes encouraging them to
- Eat breakfast every day to help maintain concentration in class – a good breakfast should be able to provide one-third of the total daily energy requirement. One study found that an overnight and morning fast among children school children had deteriorating effect on memory and attention, so skipping breakfast can have adverse effects on both general energy levels and cognition of school children.
- Eat a variety of foods in order to have adequate nutrient intake.
- Balance the food you eat with physical activity
- Choose a diet with plenty of grain products, vegetables and fruits
- Choose a diet low in fats and cholesterol
- Buy low calorie and low fat meals, snacks and desserts, skimmed milk and non-carbonated drinks.
- Choose a diet that provides enough Calcium and Iron to meet their growing body requirements
- Teach children from an early age about nutrition, food, drinks and healthy eating
- Chose a diet moderate in sugar and salt
- Avoid during large amount of sweet desserts, soft drinks, fruit flavored drink, sugar coated cereals, chips and candies as they have little nutritional value
Habits developed in the formative years of life have a lasting effect on health as a result parents need to set positive food culture through meal planning, keeping a variety of food in supply and setting a good example