Sep 30, 2019
Balanced diet on your way back to school: Suggestions from an endocrinologist
Take note of the recommendations of Dr. Vaneska Spinelli Reuters, an Endocrinology specialist at the Red Cross Hospital.
The frequency of obesity in childhood and adolescence has been increasing in Portugal in recent years. Recent studies show that 15% of children between the ages of 4 and 7 are already considered obese and that in the 10 year old age group, obesity reaches 17% of them. Between the ages of 10 and 15, the frequency falls to 5%, however Portugal is the 5th country with the highest rate of obesity in adolescence in the European continent.
The main factors identified as contributing to this fact are the lack of physical activity and inadequate diet. Processed foods and fast food have been increasingly consumed by children and young people; the consumption of vegetables is insufficient and that of fruit is positive, but has fallen sharply in the last 12 years.
With the end of the holidays and return to school, we should be attentive to school snacks, since inadequate food is closely related to excess weight.
The school canteens still offer very caloric and unhealthy options such as snacks, fried food, cakes, soft drinks, and industrialized juices. Therefore, the ideal is for the child/youth to take their food from home, because fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains must be consumed daily in the morning and afternoon class intervals. At lunch time, the ideal is to have the meal offered at school, which contains, in a balanced way, the essential food groups and avoid the outings with colleagues to eat fast food in the street like hamburgers or hot dogs.
Sandwiches can be an alternative for lunch, in some exceptional cases, but should be made with wholemeal or cereal bread, grilled chicken or beef, and various vegetables such as lettuce, rocket, watercress, tomato, eggplant, carrot, etc. They should be seasoned with olive oil and vinegar or shown. In turn, mayonnaise and ketchup should be avoided. They can ingest fruits or natural gelatines for dessert or accompany the meal with natural fruit juice without adding sugar.
Foods rich in carbohydrates such as cakes, soft drinks, industrialized juices, sweets, sweets, and can cause obesity, can generate agitation in children and reduce the level of attention to classes, which can lead to reduced school performance.
Adequate intake of micronutrients such as vitamins, proteins and minerals are fundamental for physical and mental well-being, and nutritional deficiencies related to poor food quality may also interfere with school performance. On the other hand, the omission of intermediate meals at lunch, such as morning and afternoon snacks, reduces the supply of energy to the body and hinders the ability to concentrate and learn.
Physical activity stimulates cognition, reduces anxiety and improves the level of attention and helps fight obesity. The practice of physical activity in and out of school should always be stimulated and combined with an adequate diet.
The recommendations are from Dr. Vaneska Spinelli Reuters, endocrinologist at the Red Cross Hospital.