If you were to be asked what are the things you would like your children to learn during their childhood, what would your list consist of? Academics (obviously), extra-curricular and personality development, public speaking, hobbies, sports, leadership, ownership, responsibility, ethics and morals, social awareness are few of the things I am sure you would say. As a parent, you want a holistic development of your child. But, very few parents realize that health education is as important as all those things I mentioned. In fact, one of common rules world’s most successful people follow is to take care of their health. If you are not healthy (both physically and mentally), you cannot give your 100% to achieve your goals. There should be health education for children from their early age so that they could become their best possible versions health wise.
The human body, just like any other piece of machinery requires maintenance and proper care. If you don’t change the engine oil of your car for a long time or use the clutch more frequently, your car will demand high maintenance at an early stage. Keep doing that, and your car’s life will get reduced, in turn, your resale value gets reduced. You end up with a car that 5 years old but looks like 10 years old. Similarly, if we don’t provide our bodies with adequate micro and macronutrients, how can we possibly imagine to excel in academics or sports?
Why is health education for children important?
You want them to learn at school, not survive it
Children tend to skip breakfast before heading school. Sometimes they faint during the morning assembly. Their first does energy arrives at lunch and what do send in lunch for them? If you are able to feed your children healthy food during school lunch, then you are a terrific parent. But the truth is, most children don’t want simple food in their lunch boxes. It is not before they get home that they eat a proper meal. Without proper energy and nutrients in the body, a child cannot be expected to learn and grow at school.
Brain does need its fuel
The human brain is 60% fat, it needs unsaturated fats to thrive and perform at an optimum level. Our activities during the day should be backed up with carbohydrates and protein which a child is ignoring on a daily basis. Instead of taking interest in studies and other activities, the feels sleepy and desperately wait for the bell to ring and go home. When you drive your car, you make sure there is enough fuel in it so that it will be a smooth ride. Here, children are going to school without adequate school and experience a rough ride every day, exploiting their health. As a result, they fall sick very often, which translates into more leaves at school and loss of learning. Not to mention the high number antibiotics the child consumes.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason. We eat dinner 2 hours prior to sleep, then sleep for 7 hours. For more than 9 hours our bodies were deprived of food and are in immediate need of a good breakfast to replenish the energy. Children resist morning breakfast because it may seem too boring for them. As parents, you can also force them to eat breakfast up to a certain level. But to expect them to eat breakfast every morning, we need to create awareness, teach them the importance of health education.
Low performance in sports
We understand how important sports is for children and we do encourage them to participate in their favorite sports. But, not feeding enough nutrients to support their sports needs will create a nutrient deficiency in future. Millions of children in India take calcium tablets because they lack adequate calcium in the body. While taking multivitamins is always great, I believe in taking them to prevent any future deficiency and stay healthy. Many a time, due to excessive physical activities, our bodies go in to catabolic (a state where the body starts to break muscle mass as fuel). This happens a lot of time with children, as their activity levels are higher than adults, they need more energy than adults. If they don’t know when and what they should eat, they will keep breaking their muscle mass, as a result, they develop a weak muscularity.
Just parents knowing about nutrition is not enough, children should also be taught about these things in school as well as at home. You cannot make somebody eat a healthy meal without stating it’s importance.
Less awareness translates into more health issues in future
Today, diabetes, cholesterol, arthritis, blood pressure have become so common that people think when they get old, these are bound to happen. Children think these problems are natural and every 45+ person has a few of them. What you and your children need to know is that these problems occur when you don’t take care of nutrition.
Eating simple carbohydrates such as white rice, maida, pizza, pasta, noodles, etc cause insulin spikes in your body. Frequent insulin spikes make you more susceptible to diabetes in future. Eating foods that contain trans fats (deep fried food) causes cholesterol and blood pressure problems. If one is aware of the causes of health problems, he is more likely to do things the right way. Pull up the statistics of any health problem in India you will find a shocking number, these are adults who still don’t know what causes health problems, how will they know how to prevent them? Health education for children can ensure adequate awareness among children so that they learn to make right decisions where health is involved.
Health education for children is as important as academics and personality development
Time and again, we keep telling our children how important it is to study and work hard. Similarly, we should also teach them the importance of good nutrition and health. How health will benefit them in future, what are they missing by skipping breakfast? And how can they avoid obesity, diabetes, cholesterol and all the health problems in future? For that, a robust health education system should be formed with a purpose to create awareness among children.
Health education is prevalent in a lot of schools with a lot of flaws. As a result, we are no longer focusing on the importance of health education for children. People always sidestep this and think they have a bigger fish to fry. There a need to change this mindset. Between investment and expense, always choose an investment. Investment being health education for children and expense being the medical bills your children will pay when they are above 40 because they are unaware of the importance of health education.
Not just a fitness instructor or a nutritionist, but common people should also have proper knowledge of nutrition so that they can differentiate between what right for them and what’s not. Start encouraging your children to eat healthily, and keep educating them about health.
There should be a strong foundation for a robust future. This foundation should always include health education for children as a crucial part.
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