Thursday November 21, 2019

Poor Nutritional Knowledge Fuels Malnutrition Among Indonesian Girls

Two in five adolescent girls are thin due to undernutrition

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meghalaya
Meghalayas tough hill terrains that limit field visits, space technology is aiding the selection of areas that are suited for growing and expanding cultivation of boro rice

From fears that eating chicken wings makes it hard to find a husband to beliefs that pineapple jeopardizes fertility, a host of food taboos are fueling malnutrition among Indonesian girls, experts said as they launched an adolescent health drive.

Nutritionists said girls ate very little protein, vegetables or fruit, preferring to fill up with rice and processed snacks which were often sweet or fried.

“Indonesian girls are being left behind when it comes to nutrition,” said Kecia Bertermann of Girl Effect, a non-profit that uses mobile technology to empower girls.

“They don’t understand why their health is important, nor how nutrition is connected to doing well at school, at work or for their futures.”

The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF says Indonesia has some of the world’s most troubling nutrition statistics.

Two in five adolescent girls are thin due to undernutrition, which is a particular concern given many girls begin childbearing in their teens.

Two in every five girl is malnutritioned
Two in every five girl is malnutritioned, Pixabay

Experts said the food taboos were part of a wider system of cultural and social habits leading to poor adolescent nutrition, which could impact girls’ education and opportunities.

One myth is that cucumber stimulates excessive vaginal discharge, another that eating pineapple can prevent girls from conceiving later on or cause miscarriages in pregnant women.

Others believe spicy food can cause appendicitis and make breast milk spicy, oily foods can cause sore throats and peanuts can cause acne, while chicken feet – like chicken wings – can cause girls to struggle finding a husband.

Research by Girl Effect found urban girls ate little or no breakfast, snacked on “empty foods” throughout the day and thought feeling full was the same as being well nourished.

Snacks tended to be carbohydrate-heavy, leaving girls short of protein, vitamins and minerals.

Girl Effect is teaming up with global organization Nutrition International to improve girls’ eating habits via its Springster mobile app, a platform providing interactive content for girls on health and social issues.

If successful, the initiative could be expanded to the Philippines and Nigeria.

nougat
nougat, Pixabay

Experts said Indonesia was a country with “a double burden of malnutrition” with some people stunted and others overweight but also lacking micronutrients.

Marion Roche, a specialist in adolescent health at Nutrition International, said the poor nutritional knowledge among girls was particularly striking given infant nutrition had improved in Indonesia.

Also read: Jacqueline turns nutritionist for her MMA team

“Adolescent girls don’t know what healthy looks like, as health is understood as the absence of illness,” she said. “We need to give them the knowledge to make healthy choices.” (VOA)

Next Story

Here’s Why Too Much Ultra-Processed Food Can Deteriorate your Heart Health

Ultra-processed foods are made entirely or mostly from substances extracted from foods, such as fats

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Ultra-Processed Food
Examples of Ultra-Processed Food include soft drinks, packaged salty snacks, cookies, cakes, processed meats, chicken nuggets, powdered and packaged instant soups and many items often marketed as "convenience foods." Wikimedia Commons

If you are eating too much Ultra-Processed Food, stop consuming it now as researchers have found that eating fast food is linked to lower heart health.

“Eating ultra-processed foods often displaces healthier foods that are rich in nutrients, like fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, which are strongly linked to good heart health,” said study research Zefeng Zhang from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US.

“In addition, ultra-processed foods are often high in salt, added sugars, saturated fat and other substances associated with increasing the risk of heart disease,” Zhang added.

Ultra-processed foods are made entirely or mostly from substances extracted from foods, such as fats, starches, hydrogenated fats, added sugar, modified starch and other compounds and include cosmetic additives such as artificial flavours, colours or emulsifiers.

Examples include soft drinks, packaged salty snacks, cookies, cakes, processed meats, chicken nuggets, powdered and packaged instant soups and many items often marketed as “convenience foods.”

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected between 2011 and 2016, researchers reviewed the results from 13,446 adults, 20 years of age and older, who completed a 24-hour dietary recall and answered questions about their cardiovascular health.

Ultra-Processed Food
If you are eating too much Ultra-Processed Food, stop consuming it now as researchers have found that eating fast food is linked to lower heart health. Pixabay

Researchers have found that for every five per cent increase in calories from ultra-processed foods a person ate, there was a corresponding decrease in overall cardiovascular health.

Adults who ate approximately 70 per cent of their calories from ultra-processed foods were half as likely to have ‘ideal’ cardiovascular health, compared with people who ate 40 per cent or less of their calories from ultra-processed foods.

“This study underscores the importance of building a healthier diet by eliminating foods such as sugar-sweetened beverages, cookies, cakes and other processed foods,” said Donna Arnett from the University of Kentucky in the US.

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The study is scheduled to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019 from November 16-18 in Philadelphia, US. (IANS)