The Department of Human Nutrition at the College of Health Sciences, member of the QU-Health at Qatar University (QU), recently organised the Smart Start programme. Smart Start is a nutrition education programme promoting healthy lifestyle and targets school children in Qatar.
Covid-19 pandemic has affected families' diet, food choices and general physical activity. Therefore, the programme emphasises the importance of good nutrition and physical activity in supporting the immune system. Due to social distancing requirements, the Smart Start this year was virtual and targeted children, their parents, school teachers and administrators of 20 schools in Qatar.
More than 100 people attended the webinar, including school staff, parents and children. The webinar included a presentation, activities, and a question-and-answer section at the end. The symposium discussed several main areas: foods that support the immune system, the importance of adopting a healthy and active lifestyle to strengthen the immune system. Many factors can weaken the immune system such as an incomplete diet, an unorganised sleep pattern, exposure to pollution, and a lack of fresh air or sunlight. The immune system protects the human body from pathogenic microbes such as bacteria and viruses. The development of a good immune system that begins at a young age is crucial to deter health risks related to various diseases and their causes, including viruses. The correct diet is an important and integral part of developing a strong immune system for both adults and children.
AJazi AlQahtani and Aya Hamdan, teaching assistants at the Department of Human Nutrition, emphasised the importance of including all food groups in the meal to boost immunity. In addition, the webinar provided many tips to schedule meals, prepare lunch boxes, engage daily fun activities and offered specialised strategies designed to deal with picky eaters.
“It was a very informative webinar that included strategies designed to help incorporate healthy eating habits which boost immunity in such pandemic”, a parent said.