Research reveals a great deal of importance for parents to pay close attention to the physical and nutritional health needs of children. There is a growing awareness, and it has become too vital due to rapidly changing social behaviours. Thus with the impact of the fast food culture, especially on the highly impressionable growing population, experts are expressing so much concern in respect of modern developmental trends in children.
The concern is on the need for parents to be educated so they can properly guide their children on proper nutrition as well as the need for regular physical activities in the lives of their children. The problem is such a big one in that both the developed and the underdeveloped societies have come under the burden of the resultant effect of unhealthy eating habits. This manifestation is evident in what experts see as a dangerous trend that is likely to devastate the world population in the very near decades if left unchecked.
Experts say a healthy dietary pattern coupled with the required physical activities among growing children, is what is needed for a healthy growth and the maintenance of a good body weight so that they may grow into equally healthy adults. A good eating habit or behaviour will enable children to grow up with good immune system which will strengthen their resistance against sicknesses and diseases.
The education that both parent and child require is that which enlightens them on the need to adopt specific nutritional behaviours such as the importance of consuming less fat and sodium; they ought to eat more fruits and vegetables to boot. Also, parents and care givers need to be aware of the importance of nutritious foods, especially at the early stage of child development. Very importantly, experts emphasise that the best first meal of your child immediately after delivery is the mother’s breast milk and not any form of infant formula as the modern generations especially of the developing world, are wont to prefer.
Parents should know that a balanced diet is one that consists of all the six classes of nutrients namely – Carbohydrates, Protein, Fat & oil, Vitamins, Mineral salts, and Water. When you fail to inculcate these attitudes in the children, and implement this course of action, it results in a generation growing up on unwholesome diets and tending towards junk foods. As a result, children easily fall sick; they become malnourished and low in intelligence, which also manifests in poor academic performance. Such children may also manifest stunted growth and of course a low immune system, and even obesity, etc. Yet, there is what the local authorities could do to assist.
According to David Paige, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, it is vital to help low-income pregnant and postpartum women so they can buy additional food while receiving nutrition education and health care referrals. He says this will go to benefit infants and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk. Such interventions in the US for example, have been “responsible for a reduction in low birth weights and preterm births, as well as a range of other positive short-term effects. It will lead to positive intermediate and long-term health effects for the children as well, Paige said.
In our local communities however, and all around us, it is not difficult to identify all of the foods that are nourishing enough to meet up with the nutritional demands of a healthy population especially in children. Nutritional health experts say these food items need not be expensive to make a balanced meal, but only a careful and informed selection is all we need. Experts point to all the sufficiency that is available in local staples such as cassava, yam, sweet potato, rice, millet, guinea corn, soya beans, beans, and cocoyam. You also have a whole lot of variety of nourishment abundant in the variety of fish, crayfish, meat, domestic birds, fruits and vegetables, palm oil, and groundnuts, etc.
Points to note
Avoid as much as possible the consumption of processed foods
Feed your children on whole foods i.e. foods rich in natural fibre or roughage
Do not overcook your vegetables
Wash your vegetables before cutting them
You should stop giving your children fast foods and soft drinks in their (school) lunch packs
Make your children drink water after meals and not the so called fruit juices, and carbonated drinks which they naturally will prefer
Limit children’s consumption of sweet foods and drinks such as cakes, sweets and soft drinks, etc.