U12 - Health of Children

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‘A whopping number of kids – around a quarter – are now officially overweight before they’ve even started primary school’ (Roger smith, health nutritionist)

E1, E2, + B1

The main food groups that are essential to meet the basic needs of the body are identified on the ‘eat well plate’. It contains food groups such as fruit and vegetables (at least 5 potions should be eaten daily or 1/3 of your daily intake), Bread, rice potatoes or pasta (starchy foods, daily intake again 1/3), meat, fish, eggs and beans (nondairy sources of protein, 2 or 3 portions daily), milk and dairy e.g. cheese (2 or 3 portions daily) and foods high in fat and/or sugar e.g. crisps (occasionally and in small amounts). Unfortunately all children are not getting the right balanced diet we all strive and hope for. Children need to be getting the right amount of ‘everything’ in order to develop properly. As children grow at least two inches per year, they need the right nutrients to allow them to achieve full growth potential. They also pick up eating habits very early in life, so it is important that they learn the value of a balanced diet. This will mean they are more likely to eat correct portions of nutritional food in later life. I feel children do need to learn the affects food can have you. It is not just about the general physical appearance but it is how it affects you mentally and inside of the body.

Many children are becoming malnourished due to the lack of vitamins and minerals in their diet. Every mother has said, "Eat your vegetables," to her child at some point. As it turns out, mum was right. Without eating vegetables, along with the proper amounts of protein, dairy, carbohydrates, and good fats, children may face a number of problems, including stunted growth, poor academic performance, susceptibility to disease, dental problems, constipation, lack of concentration, restlessness, high blood pressure, weight problems, diabetes and disrupted sleep patterns. Severe deficiencies can even cause death. If a child (even in our setting) is a picky eater, we must make sure that s/he makes up for the lack of nutrients with vitamins or enriched juices, or they could be facing major problems in the future. Calcium is a very important mineral as the child is growing up as this helps build healthy bones, teeth and has an impact on the nervous system. If there is a lack of calcium and a child is not getting the key amount they will develop rickets. Eating disorders is another major issue which poor diet can lead to. Although obesity and anorexia are at completely opposite ends of the scale, they both relate back to having a poor balanced diet and a lack of essential minerals and vitamins.

School dinners in England are subject to strict nutritional guidelines, and other rules cover school tuck shops and vending machines. There are also other guidelines in place which help inform parents/schools the correct balanced diet to help children sustain a balanced diet. In America they have the ‘Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010’ which ensure this and I feel the UK Government will start introducing the same type of initiatives once they realise how many obese children are in the UK.

Primary schools now have to stipulate the vitamin content of school meals, and secondary schools need to do so from 2009. Across the UK Jamie Oliver has made a big impact with primary school dinners ‘I think it needs to be taken by government to ensure our kids continue to get the great all round food education they need to feed themselves better in the future and to help reduce the crippling rise in obesity.’ (Jamie Oliver, 2005). He wanted to try and improve the quality of meals served to children across the UK. A school meal accounts for one-third of a child’s daily nutritional intake. For many children up and down the country, the majority of food they are fed at home is either made up of ready meals, takeaways or – in the worst cases – nothing at all. This means...
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