Is it right to dictate a child’s nutritional needs?
With childhood obesity figures growing in the UK, there is currently a national debate focussed around the subject of nutrition and parenting. A study published by the BBC revealed that 16.3% of children in England are obese and this can lead to diabetes, heart problems and early death.
How to improve your child’s eating habits
Improved communication with schools is one way in which families can become more involved with their children’s education and food, and websites including ParentMail give busy parents ease of access between themselves and the school. This type of communication can alert parents to any potential eating problems, and whether their child is receiving the right amount of nutrients through their food.
The ‘Dinner Booking Form’ is part of a Forms, Permissions and Surveys app – parents are electronically sent the school menu for the following week/month/term and can complete it online on their computer or mobile phones. It means children don’t have the opportunity to choose the unhealthy option for themselves!
A child is not the best judge
Obviously, most parents do a superb job at monitoring their children’s eating habits and are aware of what their children eat. Schools can also play an important part in developing a child’s good eating habits. Menus that have been designed by dieticians are always an improvement on a pack lunch full of crisps and sweets and washed down with a can of pop. If you leave a child to their own devices, you are asking for dental decay, and obesity and flagging energy levels.
Some reasons behind bad nutrition
The BBC report claimed that there were three main factors that lie behind childhood obesity. Many parents have little time to cook, consequently their children snack and feed their hunger with fattening take aways or fizzy drinks; the parents themselves are ignorant about what comprises good nutritional standards; and finally the rising cost of living makes it more expensive to buy fresh vegetables, meat fish and fruit. Children need good role models, and if you want to prevent health problems, you will have to be firm with your child over the issue of healthy food. The British Nutrition Foundation suggests that you teach your child that some groups of food are better than others in order that they can understand the value of good food for themselves.
Children need guidance
All children need guidance. Their early developing years are the time when they must receive the right amount of vitamins and proteins in order to develop a healthy body. An article in The Patient points out that children need a diet comprised of low fats and high fibre in order to prevent obesity, develop their mental faculties and keep up their energy levels in order to study and play. Parents are usually the best people to offer this form of guidance, but if they have any doubts they should be able to talk to the school and the family GP.
Collaboration is a positive step forward
Teachers and parents have a duty of care towards children. Consequently, if a teacher or nursery worker feels that a child is eating the wrong types of food they have a responsibility to engage with the child’s family and talk about the dangers of obesity and other risks to health. It is imperative that a child receives guidance about food if you want your child to have a long and healthy life.