Why Is Nutrition Education Important for School Age Children?
The only nutrition education some kids get is what is taught at school. Young children can learn the difference between nutritious foods and unhealthy foods through both education and educational activities. At home, parents can teach their children even more about the importance of eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet, which can help them to live a long and healthy life.
Teaches the Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy
Many children cannot differentiate between healthy and unhealthy foods. Lilian W. Y. Cheung and Hank Dart report in their book, "Eat Well and Keep Moving: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum for Teaching Upper Elementary School Nutrition and Physical Activity" that showing kids pictures of healthy foods versus unhealthy foods is an important way to help them understand what food they should be eating. When your children are taught the difference between nutritious food and junk food, they are more likely to make healthy choices as they grow older.
Reduces Fast-Food Consumption
Many children eat several fast-food meals each week, and that type of food contributes to unhealthy weight gain and a high intake of saturated fat, calories and salt. When you teach your kids about fast-food and its dangers, it may motivate them to make healthier eating choices, Cheung and Dart note. Introducing ways to choose healthier fare will enable your children to take control of what they put into their bodies. Relating food choices to energy level and the ability to play can help motivate your school age children to think about making healthier food choices.
Encourages Physical Activity
Children who eat healthy food on a regular basis are also more likely to engage in daily physical activity. Isobel R. Contento reports in her book "Nutrition Education: Linking Research, Theory, and Practice" that nutrition education and physical education go hand in hand. Children who eat right have more energy to play on the playground or to engage in sports activities than children who eat a diet high in fat and sugar. Teaching nutrition will also educate your children about how regular exercise works with healthy foods to prevent dangerous illnesses.
Increases Fruit and Vegetable Intake
Focus on the importance of eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. When your young children are exposed to lessons and activities that focus on eating fruits and vegetables, their intake of these nutritious foods increases significantly. Cheung and Dart note that teaching children to keep track of their fruit and vegetable consumption is one way to motivate them to eat more servings each day. Nutrition education also increases the likelihood that children will continue to eat lots of fruits and vegetables as they get older.
- "Eat Well and Keep Moving: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum for Teaching Upper Elementary School Nutrition and Physical Activity"; Lilian W. Y. Cheung and Hank Dart; 2007
- "Nutrition Education: Linking Research, Theory, and Practice"; Isobel R. Contento; 2010