The eating habits and exercise that children develop during childhood can make the difference between a healthy life and the risk of disease into adulthood, as healthy food is essential for physical and intellectual development.
The arrival of October marks the start of classes for many children and hence the need, increasingly, from parents to use the school meals service. During five days a week, more than 20% of children eat at school, their health and quality of life in the future may depend on the type of food that get there and habits given to them.
The excessive eating and sedentary lifestyle-focused on products prefried, and industrial with excess saturated fat, salt and sugar are contributing to the emergence of cardiovascular diseases, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension... diseases that until recently were rare in childhood. According to data from the Ministry of Health and Consumer, obesity among children and adolescents has tripled in the last 15 years. Currently, data on obesity and overweight in children and youth (from 2 to 24 years) stood at 13.9% and 26.3% respectively.
Thus, it is necessary that parents know what is conveniently provided by the school for their children to be able to decide and choose one that offers better guarantees of quality in food. Therefore we must take into account:
The daily energy intake of the child should be dosed on five meals: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and dinner.
The diet school should be supplemented at home, so the school must inform parents of the menus.
Dishes should provide a varied diet that contains foods from all groups, including fruits and vegetables which, in theory, should be taken five servings a day. The school can be a good place to acquire this habit.
The school can also contribute to develop a taste for fish, increasing its presence on menus and providing children with a few species.
It must be taken into account the age and activity physical of the students in the preparation of their menu.
It is necessary to comply promptly and in Spain as planned in the NAOS Strategy (Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention) the forvending machine for food and beverages. In many schools these machines are self-service with which it is difficult to control what they eat and that children often contain products high in fat or sugar. It would be interesting to replace them with foods such as fruits, cereals, juices, yogurts…
Schools must adapt the menu for children who suffer from allergies, illness or intolerance to any food.
In addition, the center will determine the necessary personnel for children during meals and free time until the start of classes in the afternoon.
In any case, we must bear in mind that is also the task of parents encouraging their children with adequate nutrition.