The Human Nutrition Department at the College of Health Sciences, a member of the QU-Health at Qatar University, has organised two campaigns at the Global International School on increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables and decreasing that of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).
The campaigns included a presentation and a range of learning activities through which students explored the variety of fruits and vegetables, healthier beverages options and the benefits of a nutritious diet.
Third year students of Human Nutrition shared with the preschoolers’ educational videos, fun games and activities to learn about the benefits of fruits and vegetables. To encourage the kids to consume fruits and vegetables, there was a tasting session of a variety of vegetables and fruits with several dips.
The children were advised that nutritional health during childhood and adolescence stage is important for supporting the growing body and preventing future health problems. Food habits during this developmentally critical age period affects later life growth and disease prevention.
Today, children are subject to an imbalance of nutrients, it was pointed out. They consume fats, sugars and salt in excess while the intake of vitamins and minerals is compromised. It might affect their brain development, learning, immunity and increases risk of infections. Given the high prevalence of childhood obesity in Qatar, it is essential to provide a balanced diet from an early age.
Including fruits and vegetables daily in child’s meal is part of the Qatar Dietary Guidelines as fruits and vegetables are important components of a nutritious diet. Their consumption is linked to improved health and reduced risk of various chronic diseases as well as improving school performance and productivity.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers. Majorities of children do not meet recommendations and have a low consumption of fruits and vegetables, which may lead to poor health, constipation and increased risk of obesity and diseases.
The consumption of SSBs is associated with poor oral health, dental caries and increased energy intake, weight gain, and being overweight and obesity more than any other beverage. Regular consumption of SSBs can increase as well the risk of several diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Speakers introduced the adolescents to the different types of SSBs and their associated health risks. Students learnt how to detect the amount of sugar in the nutrition label and enjoyed matching the amount of sugar to the correct SSB product. The resource persons also shared some strategies to substitute SSBs with healthier options.
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