This time, we bring to you a story on a nutritional study undertaken by our five GSP (Green Schools Programme) Gold schools, for assessing their students’ health. A few students in the age group of 12–15 volunteered from each school to participate in the study. Basic parameters like age, sex, height, and weight were then noted for each student. After this, BMI (BMI Body Mass Index) and BMI-for-age Z (BAZ) scores were calculated with the help of a body composition analyzer machine and WHO (World Health Organization) approved Antho-Plus software.
Body Mass Index or BMI helps to determine if you are in a healthy weight range for your height. While BMI is calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters, BAZ scores are percentile scores calculated taking into account the BMI, relative to an external reference (National or international). WHO has already established certain standardized ranges for different parts of the globe. In children, BAZ scores are preferred for monitoring health as their BMI continuously varies with time.
For a child to be in the range of one to three BAZ scores would mean that the child is well overweight and needs attention to ward off any upcoming complexities.
The study found that 36 to 52 per cent of the students in the five schools were obese or overweight. This could be alarming enough for the schools to take note of, and encourage them to work towards addressing the health problems by monitoring the diet students take.
Obesity in childhood is a known indicator of obesity in adulthood and other non-communicable diseases like Type-II diabetes, digestive problems, hypertension (high blood pressure), fatigue and weakness, increased risk of cancer, etc. Moreover, long-term consumption of foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) causes memory problems, lessens the ability to control appetite, changes the chemical activity of the brain and makes it more dependent on such foods.
Nutrition for school-going children and adolescents is very important. More so, because they undergo maximum growth and development in this phase of their life.
A healthy lifestyle comprising of nutritious food intake and physical activity is very important for everyone their growth and development, especially children. One’s food plate should, therefore, have portions of carbohydrates, vitamins, fats, proteins, fibre, water and micro-nutrients such as iron and phosphorus. Also, home-cooked food should be preferred over the packaged variety.
In the workshop conducted after the study, where the results of the survey were discussed among teachers, a few interesting views came up. Having fruit breaks and traditional food days was a popular idea among the teachers who thought it helps children learn about the food diversity in the class. Regular health monitoring (BAZ scores) of the students is a good way to check any incumbent lifestyle-related problems. Parents play a key role in the upkeep of the health of the school children. Thus, it is important for the schools to have regular interaction with parents and children about the ill effects of consuming unhealthy foods.
So, if you eat unhealthy food today, it may not cause any problem in the immediate future.
But the unhealthy impacts accumulate over time, leading to very harmful consequences. So develop healthy eating habits. After all, your health is at stake!