Lack of proper planning and supervision to blame, along with large portion sizes and culture of indulgence
- By Samihah Zaman, Staff Reporter
- Image Credit: Agencies
- Many parents pack things that are quickest to prepare, like sausages and hamburgers in white breads, and these should be had very infrequently, dietician says.
Abu Dhabi: The start of a school term may put the routine back into children’s lives, but without careful planning, this routine can actually cause children to put on weight, nutritional experts have warned.
This is mainly because children eat more regular meals during the school term than in the holidays, but these meals are often much greater in proportion than recommended.
In addition, a culture of indulging children means many snack heavily on unhealthy foods throughout the school day, including chips, fizzy drinks, chocolates and even artificially sweetened juices.
“Sweets and other treats should be something that children have once a week only. The rest of the time, they must have healthy meals, or brain food, that helps them learn better and retain energy,” recommended Dr Eeva-Liisa Langille, head of the paediatric department at the Burjeel Hospital.
The first step in ensuring that children eat healthy is getting them to go to bed on time.
“Otherwise, they wake up with no appetite and miss out on breakfast, which is the most important meal of the day,” Dr Langille said.
Breakfast should be a well-balanced meal, with healthy sugars which maintain blood sugar and provide energy for a long while.
“For example, a glass of milk and a sandwich with cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes is good. Or parents can serve cereal without too much sugar in it, as well as a portion of fruit,” the doctor advised.
For the school lunch, pieces of fruits and vegetables cut in interesting shapes, along with a light sandwich, are recommended.
“A more complete meal can be had when children return home, and this can contain complex carbohydrates along with other food groups,” Dr Langille said.
“Parents must also remember that children do not need sweets. Just because a child wants sweet treats, or likes them, is not enough reason to allow these treats all the time,” she added.
Miriniza Balabat, senior clinical dietician at Al Noor Hospital in the capital, also said she saw far too many young children who were overweight as a result of eating unhealthily all the time.
“Children’s eating habits typically get worse when school begins because parents cannot monitor what they are having. It is worse with teenagers, who usually have more liberty in picking what they eat, and often go for junk food,” Balabat said.
She advised proper planning so that parents have enough healthy food items at home that can be used to pack lunches.
“Otherwise, many parents pack the things that are quickest to prepare, like sausages and hamburgers in white breads, and these should be had very infrequently,” Balabat said.
The dietician said she also encountered a lot of young children who put on weight simply because they eat larger portion sizes than necessary.
“They may be eating all the right foods, but in much bigger servings. So while it is recommended that schoolgoing children eat regular and frequent meals, parents must keep an eye out for portion sizes and limit these according to their children’s age and height,” Balabat said.
Leave a Reply
Scholars, Experts, Consultants, Specialists, Nutritionalist and Environmental Health Officer. » read more
- UK: Halal meat removed from Luton school menus
- UK: Leicester schools halal lamb burger contained pork
- Saudi to host biggest food, hotel and hospitality event
- Going high-tech to keep the world’s Muslims halal
- UK: Halal meat withdrawn from schools
- The Changing World of Food Traceability
- Pakistan: Halal market has $1.3tr export potential
- Australia: Claims of supplying non Halal chicken denied
- Pak-Brazil two-way trade needs to be expanded
- Brunei Darussalam: A new era for farming and food production