In Africa, there are approximately 23 million children who are persistently hungry as they live in food insecure households (World Food Programme, 2011). Poor nutrition has both short and long-term effects. Children without adequate nutritional intake lack energy and concentration and therefore their ability to play and work at school is compromised.
Children who do not eat regularly also have difficulties with retention of new information and verbal fluency. Vaisman, Voet, Akivis and Vakil (1996) reveal that children often, shortly after a meal, performed significantly better on various cognitive activities. Another significant factor to consider is that childhood nutrition plays an important role in helping children learn. In addition, in times of environmental or socio-economic crisis, children often withdraw from school to contribute to household income, and a school meal provides an incentive for these children to attend school in difficult times (Singh et al., 2013; Tomlinson, 2007).
Health conditions related to malnutrition in childhood
There are complex associations between stunting as an outcome of poor nutrition and obesity. According to Popkins, Richards & Monteiro (1996), there was a strong association between stunting and obesity in the same children across four countries. While in the South African context evidence of an association between stunting and childhood obesity is mixed.
Another significant factor that may have long-term effects is that poor nutrition in childhood has been linked to an increase in the risk of degenerative diseases in later life like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and poor weight management.
This may be because childhood stunting is associated with both adolescent and adult obesity, which in turn is associated with metabolic syndrome and Type II diabetes (Kimani-Murage et al., 2010). It is also known that malnourished adult women are likely to have low birth weight children who are vulnerable to slower achievement of developmental milestones. Studies have shown that malnourished girls tend to become short adults, and thus are more likely to have small children (Victora et al., 2008). Poor nutrition in childhood can therefore contribute to the intergenerational cycle of poverty and deprivation.
It’s important for kids to have breakfast every day, but what they eat in the morning is crucial too. Choosing breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein while low in added sugar may boost kids’ attention span, concentration and memory (it is the brain power) — which they need to learn in school. The information below can be used to make breakfast more appealing for everyone.
Breakfast is a great way to give the body the refueling it needs. Kids who eat breakfast tend to eat healthier overall and are more likely to participate in physical activities — two great ways to help maintain a healthy weight.
Skipping breakfast can make kids feel tired, restless, or irritable. In the morning, their bodies need to refuel for the day ahead after going without food for 8 to 12 hours during sleep.
It can be difficult to make a healthy breakfast happen when everyone is rushing to get themselves and the kids ready in the morning and juggling the general household chaos. The following practical suggestions may assist the parent or caregiver to ensure that — even in a rush — the kids get a good breakfast before they’re out the door.
According to a study published in the Journal of Economics, students in schools that offered free breakfasts before class scored about 25 percent higher on maths, reading and science tests. Researchers believe that this is because the breakfast provides the energy necessary to increase cognition, speed and problem-solving skills.
Generally, people who don’t eat breakfast often consume more calories throughout the day and are more likely to be overweight. That’s because someone who skips breakfast is likely to get famished before lunchtime and snack on high-calorie foods or overeat at lunch.