Teaching Kids Nutrition: A Vital Step in Combating Childhood Obesity in South Africa

Teaching Kids Nutrition: A Vital Step in Combating Childhood Obesity in South Africa
Father and daughter cooking

Earlier this year, we launched our Taste Explorers Cookbook in collaboration with renowned registered dietitian Dr. Monique Piderit. Packed with over 25 nutritious recipes, it helps parents create healthy and delicious school lunches and dinners for their kids. Building on this success and driven by the shocking statistics of childhood obesity in South Africa, B-well Foods is once again emphasising the importance of teaching kids about nutrition. We encourage families to make every day cooking a fun and engaging activity, turning meal preparation into a quality time experience rather than a chore.

 

The State of Childhood Obesity in South Africa

According to the South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (SANHANES-1), childhood obesity in South Africa is a growing concern. Approximately 13.5% of children aged 6-14 years are classified as overweight or obese—that is more than 1 in 10 children. This alarming statistic underscores the urgent need for immediate intervention to address the nutritional habits of our youth.

“With such an alarming statistic, it is clear that we face a pressing need to address the nutritional habits of our youth. Immediate intervention is essential to combat this growing concern and promote healthier lifestyles for our children,” comments Dr. Monique Piderit.

 

Causes of Childhood Obesity

Several factors contribute to the increasing rates of obesity among South African children:

  1. Poor Dietary Habits: High consumption of sugary drinks, fast foods, and snacks high in fat and sugar is a significant contributor. Many children are not consuming enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  2. Lack of Physical Activity: The rise in sedentary lifestyles, driven by increased screen time and reduced physical education in schools, exacerbates the problem.
  3. Socioeconomic Factors: Limited access to affordable, healthy foods in certain communities forces families to rely on cheaper, processed options.
  4. Parental Influence: Children often mirror their parents’ eating habits. If parents are not educated about nutrition, it’s challenging to pass on healthy habits to their children.

 

The Importance of Teaching Kids About Nutrition

Dr. Monique Piderit emphasizes the value of hands-on cooking activities in teaching kids about nutrition. She states, “Teaching kids about nutrition through hands-on cooking activities not only helps combat childhood obesity but also sets the foundation for lifelong healthy eating habits. Initiatives like the Taste Explorers campaign and B-well’s current focus on making every day cooking fun and engaging are essential steps in this journey”

Involving children in meal preparation can significantly benefit their health. Research indicates that children who cook are more likely to make healthier food choices. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, these children are more willing to try new foods and consume more fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Piderit’s Tips for Combatting Childhood Obesity

To provide more actionable insights, here are some expert tips on ensuring children have nutritious school lunches, snacks, and dinners:

  1. Balanced School Lunches: Include a mix of lean proteins (like chicken, beans, eggs, yoghurt, milk, maas), whole grains (such as wholewheat bread, crackers, high fibre pasta), and a variety of colourful vegetables and fruits. This combination ensures children get essential nutrients to keep them energised throughout the day.
  2. Healthy Snacks: Opt for snacks that are high in fibre and low in added sugars. Examples include apple slices with nut butter, carrot sticks with hummus, yoghurt with fruit or a handful of unsalted nuts.
  3. Nutritious Dinners: Focus on balanced meals that include a lean protein, a variety of vegetables, and whole grains. Incorporate healthy fats, like nuts, peanut butter, and those found in B-well Canola Oil and B-well Mayo’s, to support overall health.

B-well Foods’ Commitment

At B-well Foods, we believe that instilling healthy eating habits from an early age is vital. Our products, rich in Omega-3 and made from 100% GMO-free canola oil, provide a nutritious foundation for various recipes. Our canola oil is endorsed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa and carries the CANSA Smart Choice seal. These products not only offer health benefits but also ensure that the meals prepared are delicious and appealing to kids.

Fun and Nutritious Cooking Activities

Here are two delicious and kid-friendly recipes from the Taste Explorers Cookbook to get kids excited about nutrition:

 

Sweet Potato Fish Cakes with Lemon Mayo Dip

Encourage kids to enjoy seafood combined with nutritious vegetables.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1.6 kg sweet potatoes, diced
  • 50 g frozen peas
  • ½ bunch fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 3 cans tuna, drained
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 large egg, beaten (or 3 tablespoons B-well Sandwich Spread as an egg replacement)
  • 1 tablespoon plain whole wheat flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons B-well Canola Oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the dip:

  • 2 tablespoons B-well Thick & Creamy Mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon plain yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Boil the sweet potatoes and frozen peas in water until tender. Once cooked, drain and allow them to cool completely.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine finely chopped chives, drained tuna, and lemon juice.
  4. Add the beaten egg (or B-well Sandwich Spread), salt, and pepper to taste.
  5. Mash the sweet potatoes and peas, then mix into the tuna mixture until well combined.
  6. Lightly dust your hands with flour. Divide the mixture into eight equal parts and shape into fish cakes.
  7. Spray a baking tray with cooking spray. Place the fish cakes onto the tray and bake for 5 minutes.
  8. For the dip, mix mayonnaise, plain yoghurt, and lemon juice in a bowl.
  9. Serve the sweet potato fish cakes with the lemon mayo dip.

 

Chikko Bites

Provide a protein-packed snack or meal component.

Ingredients:

  • 500 g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite-sized portions
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons B-well Sandwich Spread
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • B-well Canola Oil, for baking

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Combine breadcrumbs with garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  3. Coat each piece of chicken with B-well Sandwich Spread, then roll in seasoned breadcrumbs.
  4. Place the coated chicken nuggets on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with canola oil.
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked.

 

Conclusion

The rising rates of childhood obesity in South Africa highlight the need for educating parents to make healthier choices and provide healthier food offerings for their children. By teaching our children about nutrition and involving them in cooking, we can combat this issue and foster a generation of healthier, more informed individuals. B-well is dedicated to supporting families in this endeavor and providing products that promote health and well-being.

Download your own copy of the Taste Explorers Cookbook [https://bit.ly/4eA82dz] and start making delicious, nutritious meals with your children today!

For more information, visit B-well’s website on www.bwellfoods.co.za