School Canteen Foods & Why It’s Bad for Your Kids
By Nmami Agarwal
The prevalence of child obesity is increasing rapidly worldwide. It is associated with several risk factors for heart diseases and other chronic diseases including hyperlipidaemia, hyperinsulinaemia, hypertension, and early atherosclerosis.
Thanks to pop culture and constant media influences, children of today are under immense pressure to look and feel a certain way. Body shaming is nothing new, and is not restricted to just adults. In fact, children face a tremendous amount of body shaming that leads to unhealthy weight loss, weight gain, undernourishment, and disrupted mental health.
Malnutrition & Obesity is one of the major causes for improper diet. It causes an increase in morbidity and mortality and has an adverse effect on intellectual ability. The prevalence of child obesity is increasing rapidly worldwide. It is associated with several risk factors for heart diseases and other chronic diseases including hyperlipidaemia, hyperinsulinaemia, hypertension, and early atherosclerosis.
Nearly half of all deaths in children under 5 are attributed to undernourishment of the body. Undernutrition puts children at greater risk of dying from common infections, increases the frequency and severity of such infections, and contributes to delayed recovery.
Besides this, the environment can exert a strong influence on each child’s food decisions. In order to facilitate children to make better food choices and to develop healthy eating habits, it is important that the school food environment is healthy.
The school environment plays an important role in nurturing and sustaining good eating habits. Most children consume at least one snack or one meal in their school canteen on most days of the week over a period of several years.
By promoting and encouraging healthier food choices during childhood, it is anticipated that healthy eating habits will be carried through to adulthood and may go a long way to help prevent chronic disease later in life.
Serving healthy choices during lunch and breakfast, limiting availability and marketing of unhealthful foods and sugary drinks, and making water available to students throughout the day are some of the ways that schools can help prevent obesity. Making these types of changes in the school food environment will be no easy task. Now days, school authorities are more concerned about the eating habits of the child and make sure that the food which is served in the canteen is comprised of a well balanced diet. For this, they are also hiring an expert to get more knowledge and improve the quality of the school canteen.
School canteens should dish out healthy choices, and not junk.
Junk food lures students and is harmful for the overall development. While for some children it leads to excessive weight gain, in other cases, it leads to unhealthy weight loss. There are umpteen healthy alternatives which need to be encouraged. The school authorities should make stringent rules and ensure that canteens do not sell junk food. It is the moral duty of teachers and parents to persuade students to opt for healthy alternatives and guide them on the ill-effects of junk food.
Children get addicted to junk food due to its taste and do not realise its harmful effects, and eventually this leads to obesity and other chronic illnesses. Parental guidance is needed to avoid junk food. Schools need to stop the sale of junk food in canteens and should discuss the adverse effects of junk food in the morning assembly every day.
Health and nutrition experts should be asked to suggest tasty alternatives to satiate students’ palate and appetite.
Fresh fruits, whole grain cereals, coconut water, wholesome meal (roti/rice/dal/sabji/raita) should be included.
Canteen operators have to ensure that workers who handle and prepare food wear clean attire such as aprons and gloves.
The cleanliness of the kitchen and the canteen must be maintained at all times. The floor must be swept and mopped to keep flies and other household pests away, and the tables and chairs must be wiped and be stain free. Utensils such as plates and glasses must be washed thoroughly with soap and disinfected in hot water to remove stubborn oily stains and grease.
All this calls for proper and systematic enforcement by the school authorities.
Over to you:
At the end of the day, your child’s physical health plays an important role in defining his or her mental well-being. If your child gets the right kind of nutrition, and is steered clear of junk food influences, then their academic performance, along with their physical and extracurricular activity reach an optimum level. Help them make the right choices today, for a bright and healthy future tomorrow!
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