Knowledge for Life: Educating children on the importance of good nutrition
"Helping to shape the health, wellbeing and self-esteem of current and future generations through motivational workshops and talks in schools across the country”
The benefits of teaching school-age children good eating habits to promote health, wellbeing and self-esteem and optimise potential
BY TINA LOND-CAULK, BSc (Hons) NT, mBANT, RSM
Teenage eating habits are poor and getting worse, the Department of Health has claimed. The statistics are overwhelming:
• 1 in 3 children will go on to develop diabetes
• 31% of children age 2-15 are overweight or obese, leading to long-term heart disease and other health implications
• 1 in 20 children in the UK are affected by ADHD and behavioural or learning disorders often linked to poor dietary choices
• 1.6 million young people are affected by eating disorders (mostly 14-25 year olds)
Expert opinion is unequivocal:
“An adolescent who is healthy is the best foundation for a healthy adult life” The Lancet, Editorial, 28 April, 2012
“The effects of poor health during the teenage years can last a lifetime. Keeping adolescents healthy is a valuable investment in the nation’s future” Chief Medical Officer’s report, England, 2007.
To truly turn the tide on diet-related ill health "we need greater emphasis on early intervention" The Soil Association, 2015.
Why, then, do we continue to ignore the fundamental issue of nutrition when it comes to children's brains and behaviour?
Schools are in a unique position to equip children and young people with the skills and knowledge they need to maintain lifelong healthy and sustainable eating habits.
Our School Health Initiative, run by expert graduate Nutritionists, aims to reverse these trends. Following our workshops schools report the positive impact on students associated with improved dietary consumption and lifestyle choices;
• Improved behaviour in the classroom
• Improved sleep quality
• Improved levels of concentration
• Enhanced levels of self-esteem and wellbeing
• Stabilised energy levels.
The poor state of children's diets
There is ample evidence that the typical modern, western-type diet is detrimental to physical health - as evidenced by the epidemics of childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes. We know that children and teenagers’ diets in the UK are far from optimal often featuring highly processed foods low in key essential nutrients. Many teenagers skip breakfast and or lunch which we know makes youngsters tired and underperform in the classroom.
Common deficiencies symptoms include;
FATTY ACIDS – attention problems, difficulties with working memory, sleep problems, excessive mood swings
MAGNESIUM – anxiety, irritability, muscle cramps, behavioural disturbances
IRON – lethargy, headaches, shortness of breath, sore tongue
CALCIUM – memory loss, sleep problems and long term osteoporosis
VIT D – bone pain, muscle weakness, asthma cognitive impairment
ZINC – lethargy, impaired immune function and susceptibility
Obesity among both adolescents and adults is increasing worldwide in both poor and rich economies. While genetic factors have a role, environmental factors (a sedentary life style and high calorific diets) play the dominant role. The major long term consequence of adolescent obesity is persistence into adulthood and association with an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease in later life.
Obesity related issues include;
Psychosocial problems, increased cardiovascular risk factors, abnormal glucose metabolism, hepatic gastrointestinal disturbances, sleep apnoea, orthopedic complications as well as poor self-esteem and body image.
Adolescence is associated with a number of important nutritional issues. At the same time this period provides an important window of opportunity for interventions that promote the life-long principles of a healthy eating life style - with potential to radically change the chronic disease landscape among adults across the world.
Empowerment is a central element of the health promotion paradigm. Schools are one of the most significant social institutions where the development of knowledge and skills which promote health and prevent diseases can be addressed. It also provides a wealth of opportunities to improve nutrition.
How can we help you?
The Nutrition Guru works with teachers, pupils, catering staff and offer parent talks and workshops. We’d love the opportunity to work with your school, we provide whole day Wellbeing Events or one-off workshops including;
• Brain Fuel – Eating for Success, the role of diet & mental health
• Vibrant Energy All Day Long
• Boosting Immunity
• Sports Nutrition
• Signs and Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiencies
• Food Addictions (sugar, salt and fat) and how to get rid of them
• Removing Obstacles to a Healthy Lifestyle
“Ultimately there is a positive impact for the whole school environment from classroom through to examination results”
About the author
Tina qualified with a first class BSc Hons in Health Science with a specialism in Nutrition. She has worked as a Registered Nutrition Consultant for the prestigious Health Doctors Clinic, an Integrated Medical Clinic, Harley Street, W1, The Diagnostic Clinic, W1 and Charter Day Care, W1 an eating disorders clinic. These high profile medical practises emphasise Nutrition and Lifestyle management as a priority with all their clients.
Tina Lond-Caulk is a regular presenter at North London Collegiate School. Her presentations on nutrition and good health are beautifully presented and have provided our students with a wealth of invaluable information and experiences. She is exceptionally well-informed and most impressively her talks are constantly being adapted and improved. She is clearly an expert in her field and students feel totally confident in her presence. I know that she leads a team of presenters and has developed a range of specialist talks for different audiences.
Miss Deborah Gibbs, Head of PSHE, North London Collegiate
The talks are always highly interesting and eye-opening as many of us have never been made aware of the huge effect that a diet can have on your life, and personally, this is my favorite PSHE speakers so far due to the enthusiasm and passion with which she spoke about a relevant and fascinating topic.
Suzy Morton, Head of PSHE, Gordonstoun