Children board a bus for school on Monday. Kamal Kassim/Rlixa
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
It is back-to-school and even if they were on holidays, children should be oriented to breaking their fast healthily, unhurriedly, and preferably at home with family or loved ones.
Aster Clinic Jubilee Medical Complex (Bur Dubai) clinical psychologist Arfa Banu Khan linked missing breakfast or feasting on an inadequate breakfast that provides zero or lesser amounts of the necessary micronutrients â€“ for growth, brain development, better immune system, among others â€“ to behavioural nuances: â€œI have encountered cases of children who have significant behavioural problems and on detailed evaluation of their eating and sleeping patterns, many a time, I have come across that they usually have unhealthy eating and sleeping patterns.â€ Examples of micronutrients are zinc; manganese; magnesium; calcium; iron; and Vitamins A,C,D,E,K and all the Vitamin Bs.
Citing her observational data, Khan added that children she had analysed with significant behavioural problems are used to brunches as â€œthey skip their breakfast or postpone breakfast and extend it to lunchtime.â€ She stated that this kind of routine must be discontinued for after six to eight hours of sleep, everyone must have a â€œhealthy startâ€ for each day.
Pointing out the common notion that â€œbreakfastâ€ is â€œto break the fast, after resting and sleeping for hours,â€ Medcare Hospital (Sharjah) specialist paediatrician Dr. Abdul Majeed said: â€œIt is the first meal of the day. It gives us the opportunity to fuel our body with nutrients.â€
He also said: â€œPeople who eat breakfast generally have more healthy diets overall; have better eating habits; and, are less likely to be hungry for snacks during the day than people who skip breakfast. Children who eat an inadequate breakfast are more likely to make poor food choices not only for the rest of the day but also over the longer term.â€
Regarding behavioural patterns, Khan said that children who miss breakfast or who feast on inadequate breakfast demonstrate â€œtiredness, irritability, anger, low energy, and restlessness.â€
Khan and Majeed were enquired on their expert opinion and advice on the essential breakfast in connection to modernisation and the consequent busy life of parents and families in general since Rlixa recently published a news report surrounding the â€œBreakfast and Psychosocial Behavioural Problems in Young Population: The Role of Status, Place and Habits,â€ a research study that analysed â€œsecondary (2017) data from the Spanish National Health Surveyâ€ involving 3,772 four- to 14-year-old children in Spain.
The news report on the 10-page study, uploaded in the â€œFrontiers in Nutritionâ€ website, quoted lead author Dr. Jose Francisco Lopez-Gil of the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha (Cuenca City, Spain): â€œOur results suggest that it is not only important to eat breakfast, but it is also important where young people eat breakfast and what they eat. Skipping breakfast or eating breakfast away from home is associated with increased likelihood of psychosocial behavioural problems in children and adolescents.â€
Psychosocial behaviour refers to how an individual deals and interacts with others and to situations, circumstances or conditions.
Over in Dubai, Khan said: â€œIt is important to make necessary healthy changes by scheduling activities for children and making sure that the start of the day is with a healthy diet.â€
Majeedâ€™s saving time tips to ensure that the family indulges unhurriedly with a healthy breakfast every morning, before going about their respective daily obligations:
â€¢ Prepare some quick and healthy breakfast the night before or during the weekend with children as assistants. Do the same with other meals if time requires.
â€¢ Set the alarm clock 10 to 15 minutes earlier than usual to give time for the breakfast preparation.
â€¢ Avoid the social media and the emails. Prioritise family breakfast each day and eat together as a family with the parents and other older members conscious that they are the role models when it comes to healthy eating choices and habits.
â€¢ Allow everyone to serve themselves and stop when full.
â€¢ To avoid overeating, do away with distractions such as screen time.
â€¢ Go for family-oriented rewards such as a family nature trip and sports activities that encourage healthy living.