Brain Hospital Nutrition and Diet Specialist Özden Örkçü drew attention to the problem of obesity that started to be seen in children with the pandemic.
Children faced nutritional problems in the pandemic
Noting that the Covid-19 pandemic can cause different nutritional problems in children due to the restriction of their movements at home, Özden Örkçü underlined that in this process, deficiencies can be seen in the intake of essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, along with frequent consumption of packaged foods and processed products.
The right foods should be preferred
Reminding that children staying at home consume more food and move less can result in overweight or obesity, Özden Örkçü continued as follows:
“On the other hand, children who are at home 24 hours a day with their family may be eating healthier because they do not have the chance to choose a meal of their own preference as they are outside. In order to protect children from nutritional problems, it is of great importance that the foods to be selected during the pandemic period are balanced and rich in energy, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Meeting the nutritional needs of children, who are one of the groups most susceptible to infection, is important in terms of preventing health problems they may encounter in the coming years. “
Whole grain foods should be preferred
Özden Örkçü said that children who stay at home for a long time during the pandemic process and whose activities are reduced should consume as little as possible with simple sugar and excessive calorie foods (sweets and all other pastries made from white flour, white rice, granulated sugar and confectionery). He noted that it increases the risk of obesity and adversely affects the immune system by disrupting the oral and intestinal flora.
Watch out for excessive salt consumption!
Expressing that consuming foods such as whole grain whole wheat, buckwheat, rye, other grain products, legumes, brown or basmati or black rice, whole wheat pasta instead of simple sugared foods will be more beneficial for health, Özden Örkçü said, “Another issue that should be considered is also salt! Excessive salt consumption can lead to lowered immunity. Children staying indoors may also face vitamin D deficiency, as they cannot get enough sunlight. Therefore, they should not miss foods such as cheese, dairy products and eggs in their breakfast ”he warned.
Healthy snack: Unroasted nuts and homemade yogurt
Emphasizing that legumes, red meat and fish should be included in meals at least 1-2 times a week in order to keep their immune system strong, Özden Örkçü recommended giving unroasted nuts and homemade yogurt as snacks. Özden Örkçü drew attention to the fact that home-made yoghurts should be given to children when they crave hunger and snacks because they have high probiotic values, and these foods will support healthy nutrition by preventing weight gain.
Bake the potato!
Stating that parents should prefer substitute foods instead of ready-made fast-food products such as hamburger and pizza, Özden Örkçü said, “Instead of pizza, they can lay pizza ingredients on a pancake dough made of whole wheat flour and serve them after sufficient heat treatment or meatball potatoes, which are indispensable for children, instead of frying. They can be served to their children in the form of a grill in the oven or in an oil-free pan, ”he said.
Sleep pattern is important in combating obesity
Expressing that there is no age limit for the onset of obesity in children, Özden Örkçü stated that children who are fed with ready-made foods with high sugar rate instead of breast milk and who are forced to eat in childhood can have obesity even at the age of 2-3 years.
Özden Örkçü said that if there is a serious fat accumulation in the belly and breast area, families should consult a specialist before it is too late and gave the following information: “Excess fat storage that disrupts the estrogen balance causes different problems with early puberty. Sleep patterns and adequate sleep are also very important in combating obesity. Children who go to bed early and wake up early wake up more vigorous and happy thanks to the melatonin hormone secreted at night. Sleeping less than necessary, not getting enough sleep causes the level of leptin hormone, which gives a feeling of satiety, to decrease. “
Parents should be role models
Stating that parents should be a role model for their children in losing weight, Özden Örkçü reminded that children of parents who are overweight and who do not change their lifestyle cannot be successful in weight loss.
Explaining that it is an important step to re-organize the lifestyle of the family together with the child, Özden Örkçü made the following recommendations: “Instead of creating diet lists, we should stay away from flour and sugar and return to a balanced healthy diet based on vegetables. Instead of filling the refrigerator or shelves with snacks such as chocolate, chips, biscuits, healthy snacks, kefir, milk, dried fruit or fresh fruit, unroasted nuts should be included. This habit should also be taught to children. Food should not be eaten after 19:00 in the evening, and if you will stay afterwards, high-calorie foods or foods such as frying should not be included, it should be ensured that a moving life is achieved by consuming plenty of water. “