The School Nutrition Association has established March 6-10 as National School Breakfast week, in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of healthy, nutritious breakfasts – not just for kids, but for teachers, parents, and school staff.
During this week, participating schools will be serving healthful, nutritious breakfasts – as a way to increase student knowledge about nutrition and the importance of healthy meals to the development of children.
This event also raises awareness of the School Breakfast Program, first established in 1966 to aid needy children in getting the nutrition and food that they need to perform well in school, and grow up healthy, strong, and happy.
Many nurses are already aware of how crucial nutrition is to healthy kids – especially if you work in pediatrics – but to help raise awareness about the importance of childhood nutrition, we’ve put together a list of 4 of the reasons that great early childhood nutrition is important to kids – especially in school.
- A Healthy Breakfast Can Improve Academic Performance
There’s a reason that breakfast is called “the most important meal of the day”. Multiple studies have shown that eating a healthy, nutritious breakfast has a positive correlation with increased academic performance, mood, and many other metrics.
This study looked at undernourished children who were provided with a healthy, nutritious breakfast before school, and then measured their academic results – specifically in mathematical study areas such as arithmetic. The children who were provided with a balanced breakfast consistently performed more ably in school, leading to a great sense of well-being and better academic results.
- Nutritional Habits Stay With Kids – Sometimes For Life
Children learn from their parents – and nutritional habits that are passed down to children by their parents are not always beneficial. Many households in the US do not conform to the guidelines set forth for the healthy development of children.
In fact, it’s estimated that “empty calories” from added sugars and fats in foods can contribute to nearly 40% of the total daily calorie intake for 2-18 year olds, from soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, pizza, and other foods that are categorized as “unhealthy”.
Because of this, it’s important to build healthy habits in children as much as possible – because the habits they develop while they grow up will stick with them for life.
- Proper Nutrition Helps Fight Obesity – A Growing Issue Among Some Children
Total rates of childhood obesity have remained fairly static over the last few years – about 17% in America, across all age ranges.
However, rates of obesity are growing among 12-18 year olds, and the numbers behind children and teenagers who are overweight are shocking – 70% of children and teenagers who are overweight will become obese adults.
We nurses know how difficult obesity can be to deal with in a patient who is experiencing other medical conditions – and how it can contribute to potentially lethal diseases like coronary artery disease, strokes, and other potentially lethal medical conditions.
Proper nutrition and an understanding of the needs of growing children, as put forth by the School Nutrition Association, is an invaluable tool to help fight childhood obesity.
Knowledge is power, and when kids understand the science and facts behind what they eat, they have all the knowledge they need to make better nutritional choices.
- Inadequate Nutrition Can Cause Developmental Issues
Poor nutrition is a huge problem when it comes to developmental issues in kids. Malnourished and improperly-nourished children have poorer physical and mental health outcomes later in life.
The most important phase of brain development in children occurs from the age of 1-5 years, and malnutrition or food insecurity in this stage of brain development can lead to decreased brain function and irregular eating patterns that disrupt healthy brain activity, and can even lead to increased risks of obesity.
Poor nutrition during the development of a child’s brain is also linked to learning disabilities, lower achievement in school, and poor emotional health.
Because of this, it’s crucial that awareness is spread of the value of high-quality nutrition and proper eating habits for children and toddlers. Only with proper nutrition and care can each and every child in our country reach their fullest potential.
Spread The Word To Patients, Friends, And Family
National School Breakfast Week is all about spreading awareness – both for the federally subsidized School Breakfast Program, and for the importance of nutrition in children and teens.
So visit schoolnutrition.org today and learn more about the importance of early childhood nutritional habits. But don’t stop there. Spread the word to your patients, to friends, to family, and even to coworkers.
Our children depend on us to do what’s right for them. So let’s start by giving them the nutritious, healthy food that they need to thrive.