While giving our children whatever they demand for, be it food or otherwise, have we ever given it a thought that how this would help support their intellectual and physical health? By letting them lead an unhealthy lifestyle aren’t we neglecting their well-being and giving into diseases galore?
An observation by the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that healthy lifestyle at an early stage contributes to decreasing the risk of today’s leading health problems in children and adolescents, including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and eating disorders while enabling healthy adulthood and aging.
A plethora of diseases post mid-age is the result of an unhealthy lifestyle during childhood, which is the formation period, according to experts. Of late, childhood cardiac arrests, obesity, diabetes mellitus, and the like are on the rise among children, which is a signpost to the importance of following a healthy dietary regime for these tiny tots.
“Childhood is the formation stage for children and most of their physical as well as intellectual features are formed during this period. Hence, inculcating the habit of healthy eating at this point is of paramount importance,” says Dr Vaishnav, a paediatrician with a leading hospital.
There is no dietary recommendation of global utility available for children and adolescents. However, they are advised to increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts while limiting the energy intake from total fats and shift fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats;
limit the intake of sugars, the WHO further suggests.
“Obesity is one of the major health risks seen in kids because of the lifestyle and stress. Lifestyle modification is important to bring control and prevent weight gain,” advises Prema Arun, Cofounder of Yoga City, the first of its kind in the country who urges children to make some physical exercise part of their daily life.
“Along with a healthy diet, yoga practises like sun salutations, asanas and few breathing techniques such as kapalabhati, tiger breathing, rabbit breathing from yoga can help to increase their metabolism and reduce cortisol level in the body which naturally helps to have a happy and healthy life,” she adds.
Experts further suggest that teachers, along with parents can play a crucial role in ensuring a healthy regime while reducing the amount of fast food consumption by children.
“Debates and seminars have to be conducted inside the classrooms to discuss the hazardous effects of junk food as such activities can create a very positive impact on the attitude towards healthy food. I think creating awareness programmes through teaching is the most effective solution for this problem”, said Muneer Thazhe Purayil, Teacher of English, Tabarak Private School, Muscat, who encouraged his students to do short research about the dangers of junk food and organise campaigns against junk food which fetched tremendous response from them.
“Many students became ready to say goodbye to their favourite sandwiches and burgers and others decided to reduce the amount of junk food. I think creating awareness programmes through teaching is the most effective solution for this problem”, said Muneer.