Why a healthy diet is vital in school age to adolescence age children

A nutrient-rich food plays a vital role in every child’s physical and psychological development. An unhealthy junk diet such as chocolates, chips, soft drinks, fast food etc could cause nutritional deficiencies as they are high in fat, salt and sugar. This would lead to health consequences in the long term.

Features of poor diet:

  • Overweight or underweight
  • Iron deficiency
  • Tiredness
  • Poor physical growth
  • Poor dentition
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Sleep issues or behavioural issues and subsequent learning difficulties
  • Poor concentration, emotional dysregulations, and developmental delay

Nutrition deficiency occurs where is an imbalance in the diet leading to inadequate vitamins, minerals and fibre intake.

Healthy Diet Choices

Adequate balanced fruits and vegetables and meat. This would help in having high fibre content that prevents chronic constipation, risk of bowel cancers and heart diseases later in life, prevent diabetes type 2 and excessive weight gain etc. The research advices 2 serves of fresh fruit each day, 5 serves of grains (e.g. brown bread, pasta and rice) and 5 serves of vegetables.

Avoid poor food choices like chips, chocolates, take away, sugary drinks and processed foods. At least these foods should be kept in moderation. Adolescents may find some ‘fad diet ‘appealing and they like to experiment. However, it may result in nutrient deficiencies resulting in deficiencies of calcium, iron, vitamins etc. If they like to follow a special diet, your child should to speak to a dietician first. Overweight of a child is multifactorial for example it could be genetic risks, chronic health issues, medication side effects, physical inactivity, hormone imbalance etc. This has to be evaluated by a Specialist and managed accordingly.

The most important step is involving your child in choosing and planning meals, preparation, food purchasing etc . Avoid buying or offering sugary drinks, reduce the number of treats and include the variety of vegetables and fruits. Always choose the right balanced food for children with allergies, intolerances or chronic bowel conditions.