Not long ago, kids in Ghana went to school with either a home cooked meal or went to school to eat waakye, rice and stew , etc without much worry about drinks and the likes. At least those were for occasions like Our day(end of term celebrations) or for the Dada be’s (rich kids) during weekends. Kids in those days ate better than what we see now.
Today, almost every child attending a private creche, pre-school, kindagarteen, primary and even some JHS go to school with snacks that are unhealthy every day, five (5) times in a week. Parents buy drinks, biscuits, toffees, bubble gum, etc for their kids just because it is now an acceptable practice. But this practice has both long and short term health effects that need to be considered before buying your next snack.
1. Obesity : The snack culture like many other adopted cultures was copied from the western world. But as we copied we did not lok at its pros and cons before embracing it for our children. America is fighting childhood obesity due to this habit of exposing kids to sugary drinks and biscuits, toffees and the likes. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that from 2011 to 2014, between 2 and 19 year olds, about 12.7 million children and adolescents are affected with obesity.
The snacks kids are being given on a daily basis contains calories, sugar, sweetners and other chemicals that causes an unhealthy increase in body weight.
2. Increased risk of diabetes : Parents who have a family health history of type 2 diabetes increases their chidren’s risk of developing diabetes in future with this snack culture. It is very important for parents to know their health history in order to have control in managing the health of thir kids.
Kids with diabetic parents should not be handed these sugary snacks when it can greatly harm their health.
3. Dental ill health : One significant cause of tooth decay / dental carries is too much sweets. When kids are given sweets every day for school, we are investing in their weak teeth in a few years to come. Especially when our attitude towards periodic health checks is poor. Giving your child unhealthy snacks daily will harm their teeth.
4. Decreased attentiveness: Sugar gives energy. More so for kids, it makes them hyperactive and difficult to keep still. Every chold is unique in their composition. Some are more active than others. For the more active kids, giving them sugary foods only increases their activities thereby reducing their attentiveness in class. On the other hand, a less active child could benefit from a little sugar to boost his/her activity level. You should know your child and what will be best for him/her.
5. Unhealthy future habits: Children learn from adults and form their opinions and habits from what they are exposed to by their parents. By giving your child unhealthy snacks daily, you indirectly tell them it’s good so they keep the practice and continue while the grow. Such habits only lead to obesity, heart diseases, etc for an adult.
Let’s review this unhealthy culture for a healthy future generation.
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