Low level of perception is seen in children who skip meals

DOI : https://doi.org/10.32739/uha.id.43109

Pointing out that eating habits change especially due to peer interaction when schools start, experts say that the food service in schools should aim to support the development of children and gain healthy eating habits. Stating that skipping meals is a very common eating behavior in school children, Nutritionist Funda Tuncer said that "Breakfast is the most frequently skipped meal among school children; however, it is reported that students who go to school in the afternoon also skip lunch." Tuncer noted that if meals are skipped, and especially children who do not eat breakfast, it has been reported that their concentration and perception are low, their attention span is short, and some of them have problems such as headache and dizziness, as well as having difficulty in learning.

Üsküdar University Department of Nutrition and Dietetics Instructor Funda Tuncer evaluated the nutritional habits of children during the school period.

Nutrition is the main factor for the mental development of children

Stating that more than 100 million people are affected by obesity, eating disorders and unhealthy eating habits in childhood and the negative effects of this situation on physical and psychosocial health, Tuncer said that "Nutrition is one of the important factors for growth and development and maintaining a healthy life later in life, as well as a fundamental factor for children's mental development and academic success."

With the start of school, the child's habits also change

Noting that the nutritional habits of the child in the preschool period develop with the reflection of the family's eating habits, Tuncer stated that "However, l, it is reshaped by factors such as peer interaction, freedom of food choice, and nutrition services provided by the school with the start of the school. To this extent, situations such as skipping meals or eating irregularly, choosing foods with high fat and sugar content, which are described as unhealthy, and errors in the preparation, cooking or storage of foods occur. In order to cope with these situations, it is important for families and children, especially teachers at school, to be conscious about healthy food selection. Also, there should be a regulation on the sale of foods with high fat and sugar content and healthy methods of the foods sold at school."

Families should pay attention to the quality of lunch

Explaining that the food service in schools should aim to support the development of children and gain healthy eating habits, Tuncer continued her remarks as follows:

"In particular, children need to improve their nutritional quality and provide diversity in foods. Therefore, families should pay attention to the quality of nutrition services if lunch service is provided for children. School canteens are also places which must be evaluated with this regard. Since the presence of unhealthy foods will greatly affect the child's food choices, it is necessary to find healthy foods and not to sell unhealthy foods as much as possible."

What to put in the lunchbox?

Touching upon what families should do in cases where there is no food service in schools, Tuncer said that healthy foods should be added to the lunch box by using appropriate cooking and storage techniques at home, and that including the food groups that the child should take daily such as vegetables, fruits, dairy products and whole grains in the lunch box will contribute to the adequate and balanced nutrition of children.

Moreover, Tuncer stated that it would be appropriate to prepare snacks by diversifying them with whole grain products, oilseeds and fruits to the extent that children will like them.

When you skip meals, there are problems such as headache and dizziness

Tuncer stated that "Skipping meals is a very common eating behavior in school children. Due to this behavior, it becomes difficult to meet the nutrients needed by the body at other meals and causes malnutrition." Tuncer continued her remarks as follows:
"Breakfast is the most frequently skipped meal among school children; however, it is reported that students who go to school in the afternoon also skip lunch. Breakfast is important since a person is hungry for 10-12 hours following the previous meal and for providing energy in the mental processes such as learning and concentration of children who go to school in the morning. It is reported that if meals are skipped, and especially children who do not eat breakfast, their concentration and perception are low, their attention span is short, they have difficulty in learning, and some of them have problems such as headaches and dizziness."

Why do children skip meals?

Pointing out the reasons for skipping meals, Tuncer said:
"Among the reasons for skipping meals, there are reasons such as lack of time, the child's lack of appetite or the fear of being late. In this context, it would be appropriate to prepare the child's meals in advance in order to prevent skipping meals or to choose healthy foods that can be prepared and consumed practically. In cases where there is a lack of appetite or a problem with time, it will be beneficial for the child to carry this meal with them and consume it as soon as possible.

Stating that various meal options and opportunities have been offered to students in schools recently r to prevent skipping meals, Tuncer said that "In this context, , meal alternatives where students can obtain nutrients are allowed to purchase food in schools in addition to the food service provided in schools. Furthermore, this problem will be solved by developing awareness about the consequences of skipping meals and the importance of meal consumption in children."

There are also unhealthy foods in school canteens

Explaining what has impact on healthy nutrition in school-age children, Tuncer stated that "The absence of unhealthy foods in the canteens and cafeterias responsible for school food service will provide a great advantage in healthy nutrition. In fact, studies are carried out on a national basis on this issue. School administrations should also address this issue meticulously. However, there are still unhealthy food alternatives as well as healthy foods, especially in canteens. In this context, the child themselves and their family, especially the teachers, should be conscious about the choice of food. To raise this awareness, education on nutrition should be held in schools. It is not enough for nutrition education in schools to cover only the school curriculum."

Noting that nutrition education programs should also address the cooperation with the family and the proper arrangement of the school environment (canteen, cafeteria), Tuncer concluded her remarks as follows:

"For example, figures and tables containing intriguing information about healthy food selection can be posted in certain parts of the school, and especially in places where nutrition services are provided, which will be contributing to the student's behavior regarding this choice. Families are also of great importance in ensuring the child's healthy food selection behavior. If children see which food they should choose or why they should not choose in a practical way in the family environment, it will contribute positively to the child's behavior towards healthy food selection."

Üsküdar News Agency (ÜNA)